Damned if I do / damned if I don't
Mad if I do / guilt-ridden if I don't/
Call when I know she's at church
or just... whatever.
Happy? Mother's Day!
Happy? Mother's Day!
Welcome to a world that I know all too well. I've spent years treading this debilitating riptide of anger and resentment. But alas, Mother's Day - the perfect platform to unleash my turmoil with calculated precision. Not pretty, is it? Breaches between parent and child never are. Petty perhaps, but pretty? Never.
Lost in the madness is the dichotomy between love and anger. I actually love my Mother. But, unresolved issues from our past often produced conflicting waves of anger and resentment. Even in our happiest times the war between love and resentment waged on. I've prayed about it, attended professional counseling, created pacts with self to just say no to anger and the punishing emotional blows. Yet, time after time I found myself in relapse, mired in a war with no end, in a battle that I seemingly could not win. That's how it appeared to me, up until Mother's Day 2008.
I set out that weekend to have a wonderful time with my Mom. We shopped 'til she dropped, dined and shopped some more. We worshipped together and acknowledged that our first ever weekend excursion was mutually gratifying. But that's not what made it special. What made it truly special is the gift that we shared that weekend. I gave my Mom the gift of...
We didn't speak it, nor did we write it. Yet, we both understood the spirit of forgiveness offered from the soul. On that day, our life began anew. I had attempted to forgive many times. It was the logical thing to do. But on this day, my soul said yes, forgive her and... forgive yourself for punishing her. Mind you, my forgiveness wasn't based on understanding. I still didn't have answers as to why things happened in the past. I forgave her simply because she is my Mom, the first Lady in my life and the first Love of my Life. In forgiving her, I set us both free.
During the train ride back to New York, I pondered a new dilemma: what will I tell my circle of like-me's? Like me, they were mired in dysfunctional parent/child relationships. Like me, we found comfort in our mutual understanding and empathy. Friends, like me, who would promptly slay anyone offering a fix, a scripture or medicine for our wounded souls. What will I say? I'll tell them the truth as it came to me while gazing at my reflection in the train window:
"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11)Had you shared this scripture with me just 48 hours earlier, I probably would've dealt with you. Seriously. But on that train ride home, this scripture illuminated my past in ways I never sought to ask.
What will I tell my friends like me? I'll tell them to love their Mom and forgive her, without reason. I'll tell them that the words of Paul Boese ring true: "forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." I'll tell them that true understanding and illumination comes after the act of forgiveness.
I'll tell them that we were right. We won't do to our children what our Mom did (or didn't do) for us. I'll tell them that we'll be better parents because of our Mothers and their journey. I'll tell them what they already know deep inside their spirit - that the child in us lashes out about what should've been. But the adult in us knows that life is about choices - complex, life-altering choices and the ramifications of each choice. We may not follow Mom's path, but each of us have managed to blaze our own path down ramification alley. May our own offspring be merciful in their judgement.
I'll tell them to fight every spirit of resistance with the spirit of love. I'll tell them to spend time getting to know the woman behind the Mom title. I'll tell them to be patient as old wounds remain tender long after the skin appears mended. And if their Mom is no longer with us, I'll tell them it's never too late to heal the relationship. Speak the healing power of forgiveness, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Lastly, I'll shut the heck up. Like-me's can only handle so much! But, I'm a living witness that the loving relationship you desire with your Mom is but a forgiving spirit away - risk everything, open your heart and go get it!!! Life begins with a whole heart.
To my own Mother, thank you again for loving me, even when I made loving me so difficult. You are my First Lady and First Love and I'll always love you. To my other Mom, there aren't enough roses to show you how much I love you. And to my wife, who is
And to all my Moms and their big babies, Happy Mother's Day!