Happy 60th Birthday.
I wish I could think of a more heartfelt tribute. My mother is a determined woman. I admire her ability to negotiate contract terms. She is Japanese and has some German in her. The Japanese culture isn’t known for its warm, welcoming nature. In fact, it is best known for its corporate, clean, and direct demeanor. Could this be one of the reasons we are a bit estranged? My mother is really close to my sister so I tend to think the issue is deeper.
You see, I’m very much like my father. I’m academically inclined, especially towards the sciences. My mother is not. I thought we had a common interest in art history. When I started talking about impressionism, post-impressionism, Renaissance, surrealism, pointillism, Mondrian, and Degas, and other art periods/artists though, she seemed bored and wanted to go back to playing candy crush, discuss shopping, or talk about celebrity updates. I don’t care about these things. I try to feign interest, but I just don’t want to know which celebrity is dating another celebrity. Anyways, my mom and dad fight often. I’m very similar to my father, which I’m reminded of by my mother frequently. I admire my husband and so when I say this to my daughter, I mean it as a compliment. I do not feel the same way when my mother says this.
Also, I always feel like I’m competing with my sister for my mother’s affection. My sister can make horrendously bad choices—dating a man in prison, drive herself into thousands of dollars in debt even though she makes more than me or my mother, getting evicted from her residences, and laid off multiple times. I know, I shouldn’t judge and I should have grace towards my sister. I just feel she manipulates my parents and they enable her. Yes, she might need more help and she is bi-polar, but I wish I held my mother’s attention the way my sister does.
She denies it now, but my mother admitted Catherine was easier to get along with (probably because they are the same person for the most part). My mom said that my sister was her favorite.
I want these wounds to heal. I’m a Christian. I should forgive. I know individuals who have forgiven people who have murdered their families. I want to forgive.
In my defensiveness, I sometimes initiate an argument with my mother. I know I shouldn’t. I should keep peace in so far as it depends on me. I should respect my mother and father so that it might go well with me.
Sometimes though, I just want to say, “Mommy, you are sixty. Forgive your sisters because you insist I forgive my sister…a sister who has told me she hates me, wants me to die, and ceased communication with me when I said I didn’t want my daughter to meet a man in prison. Yes, your sisters have taken advantage of your generosity and hospitality, but my sister has “done far worse” if we want to talk about offensive actions. Please, show me how to be an adult. Don’t get so worked up over innocent things you see on Facebook. Please don’t let celebrity deaths devastate you. Yes, you can be grieved that a human soul will not contribute to this life anymore, but don’t talk about it like you knew them unless you did. Please live for something greater than consistent devotion to work. If you complain about it, why do you do it?”
Then she tells me I’m lecturing. Which I probably am.
Do I “mother” because I just want someone to mother me? I want a support system. It feels like every decision I make is questioned, belittled, or counted inferior. I don’t feel like I’m seen as an adult. I feel like I am not seen as a good mother, that she could do better at raising her granddaughter than I can at raising my daughter. She thinks she loves Willow more than me. Gah, I’m so competitive with her. Why?
I’m vying for her affections, attention, and approval.
I still feel like the little girl cradling the cracked portrait I painted for her, tears streaming down my cheeks, asking why it was discarded when my sister’s mother’s day gift sits prominently on the dresser.
I want to forgive.
I don’t want to drudge up history.
May the wounds that mar the chosen one heal the deep wounds I feel from my childhood and reconcile me to my mother.
I don’t want Willow to be writing a similar summary on my sixtieth birthday (Lord willing).
My mother had conflicts with her mother and then regrets when my Nana passed. I don’t want the same between me and my mother or me and my daughter.
I am grieved. I am grateful.
Grieved that you can’t see how grateful I am that you tucked me in each night. I know it hasn’t always been easy between us. I know that your history has marred you more than you care to confess. You are strong. I just wish you could admit vulnerability and pain. True strength is found when we admit we don’t always have it together. I never needed or wanted you to be super-mom.
I just want you here, sitting on the couch with me, eating popcorn, laughing and snorting. I want to celebrate life with you. You’ve had sixty rich years of life Mom. I’m grateful I have gotten to spend 29 of those with you, even if they have been tumultuous at times. Let me celebrate us, you, and prayerfully, more years together.
You are vivacious and determined. May you never stop fighting for your dreams, but may you always surrender humbly to God, knowing he made you and me. In that, may we reconcile and do more service for his kingdom in the years he has left for you.
I do love you Mommy, my mother who I know would fight for her family if any danger ensued. If only you knew, I fight for you too.
Motherhood is no easy task and you stuck with it even if you preferred a career. Thank you for not straying as your father did. You are physically present and for that, thank you. Thank you for being persistent. Thank you for being silly, as I know you can be (barbie doll acting in a cross-country trip). Thank you for sharing 29 years of your sixty with me. I admire you more than you think, and sometimes more than I care to admit.
May you have a great day.
*If you ever find these it is going to be a long, hard discussion and Daddy will probably lecture me on being mature, private, and respectful. Ah, how I should. Pray for me as I do for you.