This one hurts. That’s probably why it has taken me so long to put it down. No one likes to rip scabs off and scrape ’till it bleeds afresh, but sometimes debridement is the only way to get clean, fresh skin to grow.
I’m not good enough. Never have been, at least in my mother’s eyes. I was too loud, too short, too fat, too needy, too boyish, too nerdy, too, too, too. There wasn’t anything I could ever do to live up to her expectations of me. Every time I thought I’d finally done something to merit her love, she raised the bar and I just didn’t quite measure up. Not when I got straight A’s…every report card. Not when I was awarded trophies for various little things. Not when I won writing contests. Not when I had a husband and a career by the time I was 20. Never. I was always too fat, too nerdy, too loud, too, too, too. I think I may have gotten close when I had my first son; but I quickly learned that she loved HIM and all the love I craved, he received.
What I have learned is the problem isn’t me, but her. My brain knows that. I can reason that it is her own insecurities that keep her from loving. I know that on the intellectual level. But down deep, on the heart level, it still hurts. And Mother’s Day, that most revered of all the Hallmark Holidays (even more than Valentine’s Day ’cause guilt is an incredible motivator!) is my day to bleed. Faced with the racks and racks of sweet, mushy, PINK, cards that gush lovely sentiment, I want to run and hide. I scan them all, looking for one that is non-committal. ‘Thanks for birthing me…it’s been real’ or ‘So it’s Mother’s Day…here’s your card’ or something similar. And truth be told, I couldn’t give her a card like that even if I found one. For I would pay for THAT little indiscretion for the next 364 days, and I’d better not repeat it, ever!
For though my mother has permission to treat everyone as she likes, with bitterness and judgement and poison, no one else is afforded that luxury. Everyone in her sphere must be kind to a fault, fawn over her hair or her jewelry or her new purse or whatever she decides for that day. And if you slip up, my father will hear about it over and over for the next week and then he will deliver the message that ‘Your mother is quite upset about….’ and restitution must be made immediately, with apology and mewling required.
This year was no exception. We went to the restaurant of her choice as in every year(at least it wasn’t the buffet again!) and had a meal peppered with conversation about cars and planes. For it is the men that talk (my father and husband and boys). My mother doesn’t ask me how I’m doing or is in the least interested in my life. And after I ask her how she is and I get a ‘fine’ or this week’s laundry list of physical ailments, the conversation dwindles. So I sit with a fake smile in my face and feign interest until I am released from the torture and can go back to my life. But this year, as we are saying our goodbyes in the parking lot and I am doing everything I can to keep from bolting to my car, my father leans over and says ‘You could call once in a while. You used to call all the time and now you never do.’ ‘WHAT?’ I scream, but only in my head. I have a wonderful husband, 3 amazing sons, I am recently retired from a 34 year career in medicine and now have a full-time ministry with the homeless, I work in my husband’s shop, and I just spent 2 grueling hours with my parents, being the ‘good’ daughter. It’s MY Mother’s Day too, which I just gave up for her, and I’m STILL not good enough?! He could have slapped me across the face..it would have been just as surprising and probably hurt less. I gathered myself up and toddled to the car and sat there trying to catch my breath.
No, I didn’t respond. No, I won’t be calling either. It’s finally time to be good enough in my own eyes. For at 52 years of age, if I haven’t succeeded in winning their love by now, I never will. My Father in Heaven loves me. My children love me. My husband loves me. My many Sisters in Christ love me. And I love them, with a fervor that can only come from Heaven. Thank you Jesus for that peace. Thank you for giving me parents who are the very definition of love with conditions so I would seek Your eternal Love that knows no bounds. For in HIM, I am clothed in righteousness from Jesus’ finished work on the cross and His Saving Grace. In HIS eyes, I have been made good enough!