Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mothers and Daughters


Am not pinching her neck as she contends
Greetings Readers!
Maddie and Aaron are driving somewhere in the south as I write—somewhere where I (Llisa) am not—though 80 degree temps here make me less envious than I might be were it otherwise. 

But the real point is that she is not here as I answer this mother/daughter coNUNdrum.  I can only do my best to answer as Maddie would answer—as she obviously adores her mother.

*Ahem*.

The coNUNdrum.

Dear MikChiks,
I have a cordial, polite relationship with my mother.  I honor her and love her, but can’t say I really like her.  It took me a long time to realize that she’s narcissistic and doesn’t care about much that doesn’t revolve around her.   Usually I’m okay with the nature of our relationship which mainly consists of a weekly phone call. But sometimes I see other mothers and daughters who are close (like you two) and I get a tad jealous.  I wonder if I should be doing more to improve my relationship with my mother--even if it depletes me of my bubbly-ness (hubby's observation)—even if utilitarianism and a generous dash of superiority defines my mother's relationship with those around her.

What do you think?
Distant Daughter

Dear Distant Daughter,
No mom is perfect—I know mine wasn't.  It took a long time for me to come to a place of peace with her—and that is what I hope for you.  Some moms just aren't capable of giving good love let alone pure love.  My mom just wasn't equipped—not to protect herself or me. But that's not the point I'm trying to make.  What  bugged me for a loooooong time was that she never acknowledged her shortcomings.  I wanted an apology from her.  I really wanted one.  In my mind, I really deserved one.

That is a point. 

It may sound cliché, but eventually I found a Bigger Love—and it enabled me to have compassion for her—forgive her for things for which she never asked forgiveness.   The year before she passed away we had a "good" relationship. Meaning I reached out to her in love without expecting anything in return.  My motives were selfless.

And I have never regretted it.

Maybe what I had in the end is what you have with your mother now.  Only you know your heart.  But Distant Daughter, never harden your heart—that will never serve you nor glorify God.  My guess is that much of what you've been robbed of has been turned into  compassion—and many have benefited.  I've seen evidence thereof in your life. 

And that speaks of beauty from ashes.

Not every mother can be as perfect as I am with Madeline (no need to confirm this with her when she returns).   In the end, though, we should be compassionate—even if moms don't deserve it—even if we have to keep distance from them to protect ourselves.  We can keep our hearts soft.

Hoping my words help in some miniscule way—as Maddie is not here to insert her considerable wisdom.

Readers?

All In Goodwill,
Those Who are Working,
And Those who are Vacationing,
Lisa and Madeline

14 comments:

  1. I've always told my kids two things:
    1. It is a mother's job to screw her kids up -- otherwise they wouldn't need Jesus.
    2. It's a kid's job to make me look good.

    I've done my job well (see 1). As far as 2 goes ... they laugh.

    Re you, I'd tell you what I tell every person I counsel -- accept that she is her narcissistic, walled-in self and release her from all expectations; then go looking for the gold hiding behind all that and highlight it. It doesn't matter what others have. You have what you have and somewhere in all that ... stuff ... there's a laugh and a smile.

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  2. I can so relate to this letter... I spend one day a week with my 83 yr old mother. She no longer drives, lives alone and her world pretty much revolves around her blood sugar counts (she is diabetic), how many times she has successfully (or not so successfully) pooped and who's face she saw that day. I would love to say that I enjoy the time I spend with her but sadly it is more out of a sense of duty with which I do this. Our relationship has so much history/baggage that will never be resolved and so what I have resolved is that this is who she is and I will love and accept her where she is at and try to make the best of whatever time we have left together. It helps greatly that my sister (who lives in another state) totally GETS it when I send her a text that says: AGGGGGGHHHHH!!! Sis knows immediately that this means I am with mom, at my wits end and could use a prayer or encouraging word. (or chocolate.) At the same time that I shake my head over the way things are I take stock in what we do have. And I try harder to establish a healthier relationship with my own daughter so that someday she won't have to write you about her sad relationship with her mother. Life has it's moments.... excuse me, life has it's MOMent's.

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  3. MOMents--brilliant. And I love your endeavorous heart.

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  4. If only every family could have laughter to get over the tough spots--it seems shallow--but laughter does so much to mitigate our imperfectness.

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  5. One gaping wound in US society (including the Church) is the dearth of mothers and fathers, or at least healthy ones.

    Love your mom for who she is, and don't look to her for what she can't give. If you can find someone else to be a mom to you, so much the better. And look around and see who you can be a mom to.

    Only you and God can determine what your relationship with your mom should be. But don't let guilt drive you. You are not responsible for who she is, or how she treats you.

    Let God be your mom and dad, to help you recognize those things God does that way, and to help you feel the love. Then it gets *much* easier to love unconditionally.

    Seriously, go find someone who needs a mom, and hug them and love on them. The more you give away, the more you find you get what you need, far beyond what you know to do with. So you give more away. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 8^)

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  6. I too can relate to this post--except it is in regards to my father. Over the (many) years, I've been able to work through most of it in stages. By the time he passed away, I had come to an acceptance and the compassion for him (he was terminally ill) outweighed the rest...for the most part. It's a journey, albeit a long one. And much of what you said was spot on--good word.

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  7. I can't think of another constructive thing to add beside the wise advice of Lisa (all by herself) and the wisdom in the comments--unless, perhaps: Give this relationship, with all other disappointments and cares, to Jesus, who never fails us. Your faithfulness to one who has constantly disappointed you is made possible by a loving God.

    Love the picture, Lisa!

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  8. Great wisdom here, Lisa.

    For some reason, I can't seem to register "Likes" for the comments below.... but they were all golden. Comparing our relationships to others (or how we perceive others to be) is an easy way to become discontent, whether with a parent/child relationship, husband/wife relationship or even a friendship.

    Love what Sally said especially - release your expectations, DD (great initials, btw), and look for positive things to highlight. Reach out without expecting anything in return (Llisa's words) and talk to God about those MOMents (brilliant Songbyrd!) when you don't. He'll understand and give you the strength to go at it again.

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  9. Cool, the "Like" thingie worked third time around!!! Ra Ra!!

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  10. Amy @ Social Studies MommaMarch 16, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    My Mom and her Mother have one of those distant relationships. It pains me to watch them interact. I live next door to my Momma. I have no intention of ever leaving her. She is my best bud and a great Grandma. She has shortcomings and we haven't always had this relationship but we both grew. I thank the Lord for our relationship. I would say to keep praying for the Lord to change your Mom Distant Daughter and for Him to change your heart as well <3 Praying for you Distant Daughter and your relationship with your Momma!

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  11. My mother and I have never been close. She hugely favored my sister over me. She didn't want me, I was useless and good for nothing and she told me so but my sister was her best friend. I longed for that bond growing up but for some weird reason I never held a grudge against her. I am not saying it didn't hurt but I was unknowingly given grace to extend to her, I guess. Most of us are doing the best we can with what we have. It is what it is.

    That said, my mother is now 83 and on the decline. She has dementia. She still lives at her home, (with help) knows who we are but she has no short term memory. Strange (maybe awful) as it may sound, I am enjoying these years with my mother. I'm finding it a pleasure to occasionally help her, answer her repeated questions, be there when she is scared and can't remember. There is a softness in her that was never there before. I have to be honest and say, I won't sob at her funeral, but it sure is a blessing to have this little bit of time. I guess I am writing this to say, it's okay not to like your mom very much. I think you're doing a wonderful job and a weekly phone call is awesome. I would leave it at that until you feel truly led to extend yourself further. Maybe you never will and that's okay. You can't force things. Hang around with some of the older women you know. I do and they are a tremendous source of blessing.

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  12. Well said. Don't be surprised, though, if you find yourself shedding a few tears when that time comes.

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  13. You're right, Lisa.

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  14. Awesome words of wisdom from every commenting party. As one who finds herself facing similar feelings towards both parents, these are words to live by. Accept them for who they are, love them because God put us in their life, but don't fret over the lack in the relationship (or what we consider to be lack). I'm finding that my distant relationship drives me to pour into my own children and seek to assure them of my love. I strive to make sure I don't take them for granted, that they'll always be there. They may not. None of us are promised tomorrow, and I want our last words to be "I love you." Or something on that note.

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