What do I do, and how am I supposed to feel, when I’ve failed miserably at my role as a mother, and grew up with a mother who was highly critical?

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t grow up with visions and hopes of being happily married, having children, and living in the house with a white picket fence. That was not sown into my life, and never really entered my mind as a goal or dream.  I guess I took more after my dad as I was growing up, personality wise for sure, and driven to perform like him as well

And so I admit, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child I was a bit taken aback. I was 26 at the time and had never thought about having children, never felt like I had much nurturing in me to give to children. Never considered myself “mom” material. I wasn’t raised in the church, so had no experience in Sunday school or VBS with other children, and I was 8 when my younger brother was born. Since my father was a highly paid executive, my mother had a nanny and I went on with my life of growing up without being too involved.

When my first marriage dissolved under domestic violence (to the point of my arm being broken as I nursed my 6 month old) I immersed myself even more into work and less into being a mom. When I remarried a Vietnam vet who had a hard time being motivated to work, I continued to be the breadwinner and pour all my energy into making money instead of family and relationships.

Because of my own wounding, my life as a mother was rife with failure as I pursued business and success as a way to self-medicate and numb the pain of my unseen wounds. Instead of taking my role of a mother seriously, I allowed nannies and day cares, and then my husband, to raise my children.  And that, to my shame.

Fast forward to 1999 when I made the decision with my husband to follow what we found out later was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. More destruction heaped on our family at my hands.

So here I am 3 ½ years out of that 12 year detour into deception…and God has done so much to redeem and restore me, but Mother’s Day is still hard. I have many regrets and have caused much wounding from my inability to mother well. I struggle with knowing what to do with these feelings. I know that I’ve been forgiven by God,, but repentance is all about working through the consequences of  my actions.

As Ross preached this Mother’s Day weekend on God’s desire that we honor and respect our parents, our mothers specifically, regardless of whether they deserve it or not, I must admit I struggled. My mom wasn’t one who taught me the ways of God growing up. I drove her crazy and we were always at odds. And even though I gave my heart to Jesus at age 33, I continued on with my workaholic behavior for many years to come… denying the pain that I was masking with staying busy. So my track record as a mother is marred by my own wounding and family of origin.

As I listened to the sermon I realized I needed to honor the position, the role my momma held in my life, and appreciate her sacrifice, even though our relationship was never close (that is, until the last 4 months of her life when I helped my brother care for her in Texas). That is the biblical step I can take on Mother’s Day.  Honoring her for the sacrifice she made to mother me. I know it wasn’t easy.

The truth is, families are messy. None of us are perfect. She let me down. I’ve let my kids down. More than once. She wounded me with her critical words and perfectionism, and I’ve wounded my children with my neglect and bad choices.

And so, I admit, Mother’s Day is a tough day for me. It isn’t all happy and encouraging. It’s bittersweet at best.

How about you?

Do you struggle on this Hallmark day of the year, with your own failures as a mother or the wounds you still carry from your own?

Does it pain you to see so much love being heaped on mothers in pictures of flowers and family gatherings on Facebook?

How are you processing your own pain regarding Mother’s Day?

Me? I’m choosing to believe these words from the Lord;

But Lord, my sins! How many they are. Oh, pardon them for the honor of your name.
Where is the man who fears the Lord? God will teach him how to choose the best.
He shall live within God’s circle of blessing, and his children shall inherit the earth.
Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises.
My eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me.

Psalm 25:11-15 TLB

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