Before you became a mother, you were first a wife. Before that, you were a very dedicated girl who grew up Catholic, convinced you would eventually become a nun. What changed your mind? Was it when you met Dad or was it before then? Did watching “The Sound of Music” have any influence over your decision? Were you, in fact, a hopeless nun-in-training like Maria? I always giggle when I recall how you thought the movie was filmed in America and that’s why you dreamed of going there. It’s funny what we choose to believe. I guess we see only what we want to see.
Lately, I’ve been seeing things from only my perspective. And because of this, I’ve chosen to remain silent towards you–ignoring your phone calls and neglecting your voicemails. But today is Mother’s Day in America, and I guess if there was ever a time to open up about all the things that have crossed my mind since the last time we spoke, that time would be now.
A part of me has hesitated to say anything due to the simple fact that I’m not sure it will make any sense. Growing up, I remember how you always told me I think too much and go too deep. I never really understood why you saw that as a negative thing, but regardless, I’ve grown worse at it as I’ve gotten older. But knowing how you feel about me and how I see life shouldn’t be an excuse for me to remain silent. A part of me knows that I simply shouldn’t assume or jump to the conclusion that what I have to say will be, well, too much. So it is with a very hesitant but honest spirit that I write these things and share them from my heart, hoping that some if not all of it will resonate with you.
I can’t help but think of us on Mother’s Day. Every Mother’s Day. Not just because you are my mother, but because you chose to give birth to me and it happened to be on that second Sunday in May 1981. Thank you for choosing to carry out the term of your pregnancy despite how the doctors advised against it because of your age and all the risks involved.
I know I wasn’t planned for. I imagine it must have come as a complete shock to you and Dad when you found out you were pregnant. What an unwelcome surprise considering you already had two beautiful daughters who were already grown and approaching middle school. You no longer had to deal with dirty diapers, late nights, and impossible tantrums. And so I imagine the thought of having to raise another baby would have seemed overwhelming to say the least. But you still did it. You chose to give birth to me and chose life. And for that, I want to thank you. You’re my favourite pro-life advocate ever. In your decision, you demonstrated bravery, trust, surrender, mercy, and most of all, love. I cannot thank you enough for that. And so Mother’s Day has and always will be a special day of bonding that you and I share together because of the choice you made.
Many years before this day ever came, you gave birth to two other healthy baby girls. But one of them became extremely ill and fragile in her youth. Years of hospital visits, medical exams, research, treatments, prescriptions, medications, specialists, chemotherapy, and of course all the financial bills that followed must have been deeply traumatic. I don’t know what it’s like to even have a child, let alone raise one. I imagine that raising just one healthy child is challenging enough. So to think that you and Dad were now raising two children, one of them constantly being in pain and fighting for her life, and then decided to go ahead with the third one on the way is actually quite heroic.
In all these years, I never saw the side of you that had to carry these weights. Where did you go when it all became too much? How did you handle the stress and heaviness of this situation? I only ever heard you singing hymns and smiling; cleaning the house and cooking; watering the plants and talking on the phone with friends; arranging baby showers and hosting holiday parties; doing the laundry and reading your Bible. I saw you do all these things and at the same time, constantly look after my older sister because she was ill. I grew up seeing those sides of you–sides that reflected no fraction or hint of weakness or brokenness. You were always moving, always busy, and always determined. You were Supermom.
As we all grew older, my sister began to thrive, the risks were minimized, the conditions manageable and her life was no longer one that involved doctors 24/7. But then I began to notice a pattern–each time tragedy would strike due to some familiar drama involving her, you were quick to defend her. Regardless of facts, evidence, and truth–you my dear mother, would run to her side. Though she chooses to cause pain and disturbance, outrage and division, you always remain convinced that she is the victim. She is the one being bullied. She is the innocent.
Does it have something to do with her former years? Is it something you feel is necessary because you are a parent or because you are her mother? Do you behave this way because you fear that if you don’t stand up for her, no one else will? Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps she needs to take responsibility for herself and her actions? Or will you always see her as the helpless child in pain?
Sometimes I wonder if you think I’m selfish and arrogant because I had the blessing of being born healthy, except what you really mean is “privilege” not “blessing.” Sometimes I wonder if you think I deserve to be hated on and treated poorly by my older sister because that only makes it fair. It has crossed my mind that you might even justify her actions and the fact that she sent me all that hate mail woven with grief and lies, desperate for everyone’s attention. But will you ever see how the pain it caused toward me? Will you ever see my side? Or do you only ever see hers?
Thirty two years ago on Mother’s Day, you stood up for me. You gave me a chance at life and for that, I honour you as a parent and as my mother. But today, I’m left wondering if that was just a once in a lifetime thing. Will you ever stand up for me again?
As long as delusion exists within our family, I simply cannot allow myself return–whether by phone, by email, or even in person. It’s too painful and too much risk. Quite honestly, I’ve grown exhausted of living a life of pretence around you and your firstborn. Though there is joy, heartache is always lurking; though there is love, there are also many lies. It’s times like these when I know I fall short of the grace of God for only He can provide the necessary love, forgiveness, and mercy that I am so incapable of giving. But He says in His Word that where I am weak, He is strong so I will hold Him to that promise until the day I die.
Though we are separated by thousands of miles and months of silence, you are near to me. I think of you each time I look up at the sky and I wonder how you are and what sort of things you ponder in your heart as you talk to the One who made it. I pray that His love, peace, and truth would penetrate and fill your heart and mind this Mother’s Day.