Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Healing with Mom

Through the five plus years of trying to conceive, there’d been many tears and many prayers. During the peak of our infertility process, a time when emotions were raw and tears flowed like rivers, it seemed every time I turned around I was invited to a baby shower.

In addition to these peaks and valleys, Mother’s Day at church became a dreaded man-made holiday for me. During this time of infertility, several proud parents lined the front of the sanctuary eager to have their newborns dedicated on Mother’s Day. One by one, their babies were held up for the congregation to see. The new mothers glowed. I shut down.

Mother’s Day has been awkward for me to celebrate. If this man-made Hallmark occasion put undue pressure on me, who else felt this way? I imagine there is a population of women who, for personal reasons, have emotional scars in need of healing that well up in their heart come the month of May. 

There are some women who:
· lost their mothers
· never knew their mother
· don’t want to know their mother
· their mother’s never knew them
· live far from their mother
· don’t want to be a mother
· could never conceive a child
· had an abortion
· lost their child
· children were taken away
· and the list goes on

My upbringing offered no peace, rather verbal and physical abuse from my father, and neglect of our situation from my mother. I certainly didn’t grow up in a Christian environment regardless of our claimed beliefs. The mother and daughter relationship, Hallmark style, didn’t exist.

1970s Homemade Mother's Day Card
To Mother on her Day
(take it or leave it xoxo)
If you don't enjoy the looks on our faces tough,
 cause that 's just the way we want to look.
Happy Mother's Day

Once an adult, Mother’s Day came loaded with anxiety. I had to remember to shop for not just any card but the right card, a card that said everything for me, because Hallmark knew better how to celebrate Mother’s Day. How do I pick a card for the woman who left the shipwreck behind when I was twenty to move three thousand miles away to live near her mother who had moved away from her mother, my great grandmother? 

Racked with guilt, picking one card could be an hour ordeal for not gravitating to a classic flowery theme such as;

Dear mom,Thank you for always being there for me, teaching me, loving me, protecting me, all the fun times, and on and on the attributes went.

Thank God for humorous cards. However, my heart grieved that I couldn’t pick one of those ‘thank you for always being there’ cards, because if I did, it would seem like a lie. To add salt to the wound, the search for the right card year after year reminded me I still wasn’t a mother.

Mother’s Day at church traditionally had a way of weaving in a live version of all the Hallmark cards I’d never buy. Church seemed to set this day aside, not only to talk about mothers and their roles, but also to dedicate babies. My husband and I set boundaries and began our own tradition on this occasion. We skip church to; explore, hike, find ice cream or do nothing. It’s become our day spent our way.

Home late after a satisfying day hike in 2011, I looked at the clock and sighed. 9:30p.m. I must call my mother to wish her happy Mother’s Day. About an hour into this conversation when I really wanted to go to bed our conversation took a nostalgic turn as she shared stories from my youth. She landed on Dad’s hot-temper, the loss of our sister and when his drinking crept in.

Although the events weren’t foreign to me, for some reason I softened.

The adult I now am listened with new ears as mom recounted her experience living with an angry abusive husband. Choices she had to make between us kids or him were either out of fear, confusion, simply because she loved him, because it was the 1970s and where would she go. Besides you never hang out dirty laundry and surely this bad day that lasted too many years would just go away.

No longer interested in bed, I began to see the strength and courage it must’ve taken for Mom to carry on. I wondered if the backbone I said she never had was instead, misaligned. Perhaps her constant humor, which seemed to gloss over the reality of our abuse, was instead endurance. Maybe what appeared as passive and weakness toward dad was perhaps survival mode.

The obligatory phone call became a discovery.

Mom was once a young wife and mother, who was in an abusive relationship and yearned to have her mother nearby. Perhaps Mom is stronger than I’d given her credit for. She endured a lot. She has a willing spirit, continues to be optimistic and helpful and wants to embrace me in conversation. I find her amazingly courageous for supporting my book (in progress). In spite of past obstacles, she continues to hold her head high, tell her children how sorry she is and how she loves us.

She may not have always been there in the way I would’ve liked, but in the end of our days, she is now. Who am I to continue to hold court when His mercies are new each morning!

Perhaps my visit to the card rack next Mother’s Day won’t take me nearly as long and I’ll be able to buy that card which says, ‘Thanks Mom for always being there".
Cover -
I Love You

1970s Homemade Mother's Day Card
Inside -
In all the world there is no other
to take the place of my mother.
Love from Tammy

What does Mother’s Day mean to you?

How does it affect you?

Disclaimer: I am not knocking mother’s day, baby dedications, the role of a mother or Hallmark cards. I enjoy buying Hallmark cards! Nor am I blaming church for celebrating motherhood. I learned to set my own boundaries. 

It's just that for better or worse, our primary relationships can make or break the view we have of ourselves and the world. 

When there has been damage, there needs to be repair. 

Because mom and I continue to be willing to repair, we have a whole new relationship on this end of things. I learned I am never too old to learn grace, forgiveness and to heal. And that it is never too late for an aha moment. May my story offer you some hope.

Happy Mother's Day Mom
Thank you for being here now ... I love you!


Linda Loegel said...

Thank you, Tammy Sue. I couldn't be prouder of you! We've come through a lot; I wonder where the next ten years will take us. I love you with all my

Anonymous said...

Good News of God's grace, TS. Better place than I am. (S) May 6 at 7:59a.m.

Anonymous said...

Tammy Sue !! How is it Going?? Always a pleasure getting your emails, brightens my day... (DK) May 6 at 8:38a.m.

Anonymous said...

Tammy Sue,

Leave it to you to have just the right sentiment and just the right words with just the right compassion at just the right time!!

That blog was absolutely beautifully written!!

If you can get this comment on your blog page, fine. I've followed your instructions and I think I need someone to be here physically and show me how.

Love you, Sis
May 6 at 9:58a.m.

Tammy Sue Willey said...

Mom (aka Linda Loegel), we have come through a lot. I'm excited about our next ten years too! Looking forward to a new experience of growing with you. Happy Mother's Day!

Tammy Sue Willey said...

To my sister, who too has endured. Thank you for your encouragement. We've come through a lot and together! Thank you for not bleaching the "dirty laundry" I risked hanging out, but rather hanging with me and supporting the journey of healing.Happy mother's day and grandmother's day to you and yours! Love sista

Tiffany Blackwell said...

Beautifully written.... what a sweet acknowledgment to your mom.