If you ever find this, I hope I’m not in a slew of trouble. I’ve gone back and forth whether or not I should have written so publicly. I keep telling myself to shut up and bring this before God quietly praying. My readership is low though. It is therapeutic and maybe a part of me wants you to stumble across this, to know my all too painful silence. Anyways, here goes a letter that I hope will mellow, rather than murk, our already turbulent waters.
First, I love you. I really do. You raised me. I know you care about me. I haven’t always been the most grateful individual. In becoming a mother myself, I finally understand what a difficult task you undertook. Still, I wonder if I’m a daughter you had hoped for or if I led to a series of lifelong regrets.
Daddy assures me that you two were already engaged and had decided to stop the barriers when I was conceived. You have told me that the only reason you went ahead and married dad was because of my gestation. Growing up, I was told how much I reminded you of daddy. I reminded you of the very man you drew up divorce papers with. Thankfully, you stuck it out and didn’t leave him, but I am apparently the epitome, an embodiment, of a man you wanted to leave. It has been said that we just fight and don’t get along because I’m so much like my father. My father who was always hard-working, loyal, and supportive towards you.
I was work. Throughout my childhood, I was reminded of this. You consistently said you had kids too young. You were 30 when I entered the world. I was told that working hours had to be shortened for me. Since moving out and establishing my own life, and my sister hers, you normally work 60-80 hours a week. Your career has thrived. Do you resent me for holding you back in years past?
You deny it now, but I vividly remember when you told me that my sister was easier to get along with. She was more like you. You even went so far as to say she was your favorite. If you hadn’t outright said it, I would have always felt it anyways. You’ve called her your baby. She needed you. Mama, I needed you too. Yes, I’ve been far more independent, but I needed you and need you too.
I was never allowed to really snuggle when I was ill because it might make you sick and you couldn’t afford to miss work or school. When I landed myself in the hospital, I was an inconvenience. You would always comment on how expensive my medical needs were and that I had to think before acting because I got injured too frequently. The nurses would bring me food, blankets, and affection. I guess this is why I don’t mind the hospital. When I had a cold, you would bring me soup too and I guess that is why I like being catered to when sick. I had your attention then.
I’ve been told I lecture you too much. This letter might even have that air. However, when all I hear are complaints…your job, your car repairs, my dad’s “never-ending annoying qualities”, your house, and your family, I wonder if I, who tries to find gratitude in what I have (not perfectly by any means), might bestow some wisdom on how you might attain a sliver of my thankful demeanor. Also, when I’m regaled with stories of friends or family offending you via Facebook, I wonder why you take social media commentary so seriously. It is Facebook, really!?
I have remained in contact with your sisters, which you hate. They hurt you. You want me to hate them too. I don’t. You tell me I would if I knew how they talked about me, saying my faith is a phase and I’m a hypocrite. Jesus said I would be hated and suffer because he was hated first and he suffered too. I should consider it joy when I’m mocked on his behalf and devotion to him. Also, I don’t talk to them much. Any negativity they formed about me was off of you complaining about my behaviors too them. You’ve often told me yourself that I am “too devout”, “too religious”. You don’t like when I talk about God, even though you label yourself as one of Christ’s followers. That doesn’t make sense to me.
This morning I was telling you about Willow bumping her head. You said I better make sure she is okay. Ummm….duh? Mom, don’t you have even some vote of confidence in my ability to raise and protect my daughter? I’m not going to leave her with wolves. Kids bump their heads. They get hurt, a lot. They learn through the consequence of pain sometimes. I have had to do the same. I picked her up though and cradled her until the sobbing quieted. I didn’t try to tell her she was okay, even though she was. I just held her and said it sounded like it hurt. You seem concerned about her welfare. What about when I got hurt as a kid, when I get hurt now? Can you trust me to mend my daughter’s hurt, at least with the ability God has endowed me with? Don’t you think that you raised me well enough to care and grant affection to my offspring? It feels like you even doubt me here.
I just want to know that you approve of me. For years, and sometimes still, I’ve struggled with approval addiction. I compare myself to others. I want to be liked. A part of me never understood why. I’m beginning to think it is because I’m still trying to vie for your acceptance. I don’t want a harried “I love you” as we hang up the phone. I want questions about how I am doing, before I’m asked about my kids, your grand-kids. I want to not have our conversation put on hold so you can be an alarm to wake up my sister each morning. Yes, I know she misses you and vice versa, but there is a difference between adult responsibilities and talking every night to maintain the close bond you two have established throughout the years. I want you to take an interest, or at least feign it, in something I like. I don’t want to talk about weight and Weight Watchers. (When we discuss such things I feel like outward appearance is the only attribute you or society constitutes as beautiful.) I don’t want to complain about our jobs, even though we both have frustrations about them. I could care less about celebrity lives or TV; let’s take an interest in each others realities, not “famous” names.
Mommy, I want to curl up on your lap like your precious little angel (maybe that’s why I despise your dog so much…I’m jealous of that ridiculous creature, a Chihuahua). I want you to assuage my guilt, my worries, my frustrations to the best a mother can do. When I look forward to vacationing with you or spending two weeks with you when Frank is away, I don’t want you to act like I’ll tax you, to be disgruntled. Yes, I know you can strain my nerves too, but I want to try and reconcile these rifts. I want to get our nails done together, even though I don’t care about such things. I want to play board games like Scrabble because we both enjoy the competition. I want to bond with you in a way my sister seems to have, despite her ignoring you when you visit her in CA or her cursing you out when you tell her of your distaste for her male companions.
You are a strong and independent woman. You’ve instilled confidence in me. Celebrate that, don’t disdain. These are traits I want my daughter to learn too. They are valuable character traits. Yes, they need to be harnessed lest pride consume you, me, or her, but they can impact the world greatly. Let us be a duo, or even trio, that can conquer more together than we ever could alone. Please show me that I’m not a nuisance. Let us break the generational rift between mother and daughter (you had stress with your mom until it was too late to rectify that strain). Please discard the favoritism lest it infect my children’s lives.
I’m scared I’ll compare. Lord, help me to notice the valuable assets of all my children, not pitting them against each other or me. Help me to speak well of their grandparents in front of my kids, so they don’t form incorrect, biased, or uninformed opinions. Let me love my mother unconditionally and let go of this bitterness.
Do you even know of these offenses Mama? I’m sure they weren’t intentional. I don’t want to harbor unforgiveness for past misunderstandings. If I don’t release this anger, I’ll become bitter. Do you possess bitterness? Let us lay down our critiques, our differences, and petty conflict, with each other and other family members, that we might leave a legacy of love, true devotion, community, and most of all, acceptance despite our many flaws.
Mama, do you want to love me in this regard? I want to love you this way.
Forgive me for not phrasing things in a tender manner if you were hurt herein. I don’t want to hurt you while wrestling with my pain. I love you. You have given me life, and I’m grateful for the care you did give. I always had food in my belly and a roof over my head. You did give of yourself and I want to express my appreciation for a mother’s sacrifice. I know it hasn’t always been easy. I love you. Please see the cry of my heart though, a heart longing for your embrace, your approval, your praise more than your critique. Yes, I have lots I need to work on. God and I are sifting through my dross. Let us be supportive, giving feedback in loving truth, not in unwarranted or unkind advice.
I love you Mama, will you love me in action too?
I want us to have a healthy relationship before we can’t.
Now hopefully my mind can focus on the present task of metal analysis and not revel in our divisions.