For the past few years I have written and resubmitted the birthday blog about my two children, Sara and Chris, their birthdays are at the end of this month. Here's a link in case you missed it.
It was written in a moment of happiness, joy, love and hope. Hope that if they knew how I felt they would be blessed by knowing my deepest thoughts. Hope that somehow it might create a movement towards mending the broken hearts, chipped ego's and stretched-out-of-shape emotions. Hope that the possibility would exist for every part of our family to recover from the events of the past four years and we would emerge stronger, more resilient, more intertwined knowing that relationships are the only thing that we will take into eternity.
I look at pictures like the one above and remember the time when I got them dressed in cute clothes, set up the little rocking chair in the living room, helped Sara hold her little brother so he didn't wiggle away, and tried to make a memory by snapping my camera to capture the moment. Before and after the picture we were laughing, happy, excited and having a great time. Back then my picture taking skills were lacking for sure, but I managed to grab a few that were cute. These days, my picture taking ability has grown so that capturing a memory is so much more powerful. I really look through the lens and try to capture the feeling of the moment, not just the subject. When I look back on this picture, I still feel the moment. I look into their little faces and see the beauty and innocence of childhood that made me feel so tender towards them. I see two children who captured my heart and my life and made me feel loved as a Mom. I see sweetness and gentleness which made me feel warmth and joy at knowing these two God-given children. This and hundreds of other photos that I have really move me and take me back to that time and I grieve that it went so quickly.
I look into the picture and see what I had hoped for when they were small. I hoped for their happiness, their success, their joy, that they would have children of their own so they could feel what I felt and especially for their love, that they would feel deeply loved. It was my daily goal to be as loving as I could be, to play with them, to rest with them, to enjoy the outside with them, to bond with them, hoping it would last a lifetime. I wanted to enjoy these same feelings forever. I wanted them to know and feel loved by me for their entire lifetime. I wanted to remain deeply connected to them, and for them to love, respect, appreciate our relationship as they got older.
Somehow, that all fell apart. Somewhere along the way, I realized that if I wasn't truly happy, at peace with myself and felt truly loved, that they would not feel this either. Through many years of praying and working through problems and issues with myself, and issues others had with me (as if that was my fault) it was crucial that I make changes in order to get to the true center of who I was intended to be. They saw me as their Mom, but as they grew older and more mature, they saw me as Mom with problems or Mom with issues, or Mom who wasn't completely present. Truthfully, their assessment was accurate.
So sad to say, but external factors were interrupting that precious relationship I thought I had with them. External factors like my relationship with their dad, the fundamental changes at a core level in the church I attended for over 35 years, the shaking up of my self-confidence in discovering that my frustration wasn't all about me. While it was no excuse to be emotionally distant from them, it was the reality. Not to mention they were growing through their own stuff as well, high school, just into college, not so perfect relationships and all the rest. But our home environment was toxic. It had to be fixed. I prayed incessently that God would heal whatever was broken. And with no one else taking responsibility or leading the recovery, I felt the burden and felt as though all of it was my fault for the failure. That somehow I let everyone down, that I wasn't strong enough to hold it all together. But never, ever, did I expect God to work the way He did in our lives. You just don't plan like that. You always plan from the perspective that positive results will be what everyone experiences. Looking back, after zooming out to gain a better perspective, I realize this was toxic thinking. I was wrong. I was not fully to blame, and I'm still not.
For me that hope still exists that our relationships can heal. The path to obtaining it is dimmed. I know it's possible, I know it's hard work, I know it's worth it. But the path is so dim on some days that it seems non-existent. So, maneuvering through the darkness is mind numbing, disorienting, scary and tiring. As I look in on these two precious individuals, who are God's children more than mine, I still see brokenness. As much as Sara's relationship with me is broken, Chris's with his Dad is broken. This tells me that something was fundamentally wrong with our family structure. It wasn't because Mom wasn't perfect, it was because our family wasn't perfect. It wasn't because Mom wasn't fully emotionally available, it was because a true leader wasn't available. I'm learning the amazing impact the role a father has in the home. When the father figure takes a passive role and doesn't lead the family, addressing what current issues are, moving towards peace, joy and love, it does have a greater chance of dying as a unit. The pressure is then on the mother who wasn't designed to be employed in this role. The children see the brokeness coming from the one who's role is to nurture but seems to be allowing this dysfunction. But the reality is, the father is the leader of the family. Taking a passive role, then deciding that it's not your responsibilty to lead the family, is irresponsible and irreparably harms each person in the family. Without significant intervention, it's doomed to failure. Our family did not have that significant intervention. We failed as a family.
That said, it doesn't have to remain so. What God has done in beginning the healing process, He will finish. Many aspects of our lives have been healed, but there are obvious areas that are more broken than before.
For this particular birthday weekend, as always, I wish the best for my two, Sara and Chris. I wish and pray for them blessings so full they are overwhelmed by them and are unable to even measure them. I wish and pray for them happiness and love that will last the rest of their lifetime. I wish and pray for God's favor to be on them and they would have opportunities to fulfill their dreams and passions. I wish and pray for them miracles in their life and that God would seem very real, close and personal. I wish and pray they would be continuously strong enough to keep taking a second, third or fourth look at what is not functioning at 100% in their life and be willing to resolve the difference. I wish and pray for their safety and comfort. I wish and pray they would reconnect with those feelings they knew when they were younger, when they felt loved, they felt special, they felt close to those nurturers in their life. No one can replace those individuals, ever. Even the scriptures talk of "turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers." I'm certain God meant mothers, too. I wish and pray that wherever forgiveness is due they will take the steps to get that done. God is in the business of restoration, and it feels right for us to walk in His example.
While birthdays are to be happy, joy-filled times, I wish for Sara and Chris nothing but the most enjoyable 24 hours, celebrating their arrival into this world. If my role was only to bring them here, then so be it. I am blessed to be their Mom. My heart would be filled if they allowed my role to expand into the love, joy, happiness and successes of their life. The human heart wasn't built to withstand exclusion and I pray this is the year when all that changes.
Your writing is truly amazing. I'm sorry for everything that you have been through. I appreciate the insights you have learned from what you have gone through - coming from a family with a Dad who was emotionally absent and had no idea or chose not to lead the family.ReplyDelete
So beautifully articulated. Passivity from a technical standpoint is abusive (the state calls it neglect) and creates so many negative consequences. Yet, for those of us who struggled with trying to be the best Dad we could be and still felt like failures -- we dont need to beat ourselves up because even God who is the Perfect Father still deals with broken children. Thank you for a wonderful article.ReplyDelete