Last night I had a crazy dream! My daughter, Jenn, and I met up with my mom for lunch. We laughed and fellowshipped as we served each other small plates of goodies. The room and our hearts were full of joy!
"Oh! This is what it feels like to have a mom.” I remember thinking, feeling so content.
We piled into my mom's SUV and she drove us around. Then unexpectedly she stopped her vehicle and let us off at the side of the road. There Jenn and I stood, so confused. Why did she just leave us here?
Deep crevices in the earth carved out a gap between the road and the grass, much like the gap I've felt in my relationship with my mom all of my life. I searched along the road for a place that wasn't so deep and wide, a place where i could safely get from the road to the grass. There, right in front of me, was a spot not so daunting. A place where I could safely cross and not fear falling into the large gap between the road and the grass. So I jumped. To my surprise the grass gave way and I sank. Apparently, the grass was sitting on top of a lake. I reached out my hands to the road above my head. How will I ever be able to pull myself out, I thought?
“Jenn! Don’t step on the grass,” I warned, “It’s a lake!”
And then I woke up. Dreams are funny like that. Intense pictures with deep feelings fill your head and your heart and then it's over.
I've talked in the past about mothers and daughters. It's such a delicate relationship and can be amazing and fulfilling or painful and estranged. What is your mother daughter relationship like? And did you ever learn how truly beautiful you are from your mom? Not just on the outside but a truly beautiful woman of God? To be brave, strong and bold because of Christ in you? That makes you a truly beautiful woman.
Mother's are key to daughters. They help them know who they are. They can build them up with encouragement or tear them down with criticism. Mother's are the teacher for the their daughters of how to have Christ in them. And daughters so want their mother's approval. Daughter's adore their mothers and want to be like them when they're young.
They mimic their mother's by playing dress up or copying their tone of voice and their behaviors. The twos and teens can be rocky as they try to separate and establish independence, but the way a mother navigates through this can make or break this relationship.
Daughters want to be connected to their mothers. It is such an important relationship. To be honest, I've never met a daughter that was happy to feel rejected or distant from her mother.
My mother and I haven’t seen each other in 18 years.
And this dream made me long for that precious mother/daughter relationship once again. I often wonder how my mom just lets the time go by without trying to patch things up? I’ve made several attempts to reach out but she’s just not capable of reaching back. Sad isn’t it?
My daughter and I have always been close. As a baby she'd gaze into my eyes. I'd return the eye contact and my heart would leap. My stomach would flutter with the deep connection or our gaze. I'd gently talk to her even though she was just an infant. Babies love to hear their mama's voice. It's comforting and soothing. What a beautiful connection we had right from the start.
Then came the day she walked. She always did everything early and walking was no different. Sometimes I'd catch her as she'd climb and tumble, not having all of her bearings. Isn't that what mom's do? We catch them when then fall?
When she was three I watched her as she read up side down her book, A Child's First Bible. It was that kind of cardboard book she'd gotten from my Dad and his wife for her Baptism when she was just a baby. She always had a heart for God. In fact, she was the one who really brought our family to Christ. I watched as she grew and became brave, strong and emboldened in Christ.
The day I dropped her off at college tears ran down my cheeks as we drove away. It was funny to me how that tug at my heart also coincided with excitement for her with all the new experiences ahead of her and the new friendships she'd make. It's a funny thing when they reach this age...they need to grow up and become independent. But still, they need to know you'll catch them if they fall, and they will surely fall.
My relationship with my mom has not been like this. In fact, I never really felt like she had my back or supported my gifts and talents. She didn't protect me or my brother from my step dad's abuse. I felt like I fell often with no one there to pick me up.
Several decades ago as my therapist encourged feel the pain of the past I was face to face with this fear that no one would be there if I fell apart. I was so afraid to just cry. “I’ll be there to catch you when you fall,” she said. I’ve never forgotten that. And she was. And it changed me.
This past summer Jenn spent ten weeks in Florida on a mission trip. That was a long time for this mama! It's hard for me to not see her for ten weeks let alone 18 years! My relationship with her matters so very much! And if she ever stopped returning my phone calls or didn’t want to see me I’d be on her doorstep asking what I’d done so I could start to repair the damage.
Is this you? Have you walked away from a hurtful relationship? Have you sought to understand the rejection you've experienced and tried to repair it?
Some of you know this mother/daughter pain as daughters because you have a mother like mine who has lost her way; others of you are mother’s pained by the way your daughters have wandered so far from the relationship you dreamed of. And more of you know this mother/daughter pain than we want to admit.
Perhaps your loss is through death or physical illness like Alzheimer’s; perhaps it’s through drugs, alcohol or other addictions; maybe it’s due to abuse, neglect or mental illness and it cuts so deep you just had to distance yourself to preserve your own mental health.
The later is the reason for my mother’s absence in my life. My step father abused me when I was a pre-teen and teen. And when I spoke to her about it again when I was 30, she called me a liar and threatened to sue me. It was then that I decided to sever that relationship until she was willing to get some help. I decided not to walk in lies and darkness anymore. Putting up clear boundaries kept myself and my children safe.
What part of this can you relate to?
Sometimes life calls us to be brave and strong and set bold boundaries. Have you had to make difficult choices even though you so badly wanted the relationship to work out?
The aftermath of these severed relationships are often so hard. And sometimes we cave and re-enter them, even though we know it's not good for us. Other times we hold strong. And it hurts. Today I found myself once again in tears, wishing I could have a loving relationship with my own mom.
We long to feel cared for by our moms don't we? And do cool stuff like holiday dinners, scrapbooking, conversations about the complicated things in life like boys when we’re teens, and parenting when we’re older. We crave nurturing embraces, and encouraging words.
I’ve missed this relationship so much in my life, and my daughter has missed that sweet relationship with a grandma. In middle school, she often talked about friends who got to go to their Grandma's for the weekend or a day of cookie baking. My daughter never had that. I can imagine the pain of her heart not knowing that sweet relationship.
I did my best as a mom to make up for it…but deep down inside I knew that wasn’t what she needed. She needed Grandma/Nana time. And I needed mom time.
Have you missed out on Mom or Nana time? Did your kids miss out like mine did?
Maybe you’re a Grandma or Nana. Are you there for your kids and grandkids in a way that lets them know you’re watching our for them, just as I did in the dream when I called out to Jenn, “Don’t step on the grass!”
Was someone there for you, to catch you when you fell?
Growing up it was, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” Suck it up!” “Life is hard!” “I’ll give you something to cry about.”
We all need to know that someone’s got our back and it starts in childhood. I’m not saying coddle your youngsters, they need to learn the hard stuff in life, too. They need limits and consequences for their actions. And it’s our job to warn them, be there for them, and let them know we’ll catch them when they fall; to help them be a beautiful woman, brave, strong and bold because of who Christ is in them.
Life is hard! And when family has our back, well, it just makes the hard stuff a little easier.
Ask yourself, am I showing up as the best version of myself for my kids? My grandkids? Am I teaching and leading in ways that will help them be the brave. strong and bold so they can be the best version of themselves? Or are you leaving them off at the side of the road to figure it out for themselves?
If you’re showing up in ways that love and support your family that’s so great! I know they’re grateful to have you.
But if not, if you yourself are so broken you just don’t have it to give, or if you struggle with selfishness, and refuse look at how you fall short with a “suck it up” attitude, it’s probably because no one was ever there to catch you when you fell.
You can change it up! It's time to heal your brokenness.
Check out my other blog posts at www.goodbyepast.com to start working on becoming a better version of you. Reach out to me if you want to work one-on-one.
I’ll catch you when you fall.