This is a tough blog to write.
My mom and I don’t have a very strong relationship. (Those of you who know me a little likely know this.)
We don’t talk unless it involves something funny or important in maintaining the household. We text message each other more than we talk, and if one of us calls the other, it’s usually a sign that something is wrong. So, after a year and a half of passionately pursuing the Catholic faith, RCIA classes, and being received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, she is none the wiser. I go to mass three times a week and she doesn’t know. Or rather I should say if she does know anything about me as a baby Catholic (because let’s face it, moms are smart), she hasn’t said anything about it to me.
I know how she’d react if I told her straight up. She would say that was interesting, maybe ask a few questions, but most likely wouldn’t pry. There is a little bit of (paralyzing, terrifying) fear that she would absolutely flip over it, which holds me back from being forthright and, let’s face it, honest about my faith.
Today, I discovered why I have that fear.
The kids at the daycare where I work were wound up today. Three of them were awake at nap time, one wiggling and playing with his sock, one playing with him, and another impatiently peeking up from his mat to see if I would let them get up. (The air conditioner broke again, so the usually chilly room was now humid and lukewarm, which didn’t help matters any.) I noticed I was shushing them repeatedly as I swept the floor, more so as they got louder, and I caught myself beginning to feel frustrated, even angry. Why wouldn’t these kids just sleep, or lay down and be still until it was time to get up? I couldn’t have them waking others up. Why wouldn’t they just behave?
I sat down between two of the boys in an effort to get them to quiet down and stopped myself. It wasn’t the kids, it was me. What was wrong with me? I started going to mass during the week months ago because it helped me learn to be more compassionate with the kids, more patient and less frustrated with the things they do because of their young age. Why had I suddenly felt the urge to return to my old ways? What’s wrong with me, Jesus? I prayed.
Think about how you learned to deal with behavior, he whispered. As a little girl.
I remembered. My mom would get angry at me when I misbehaved. She raised her voice and sent me to my room. I remember one temper tantrum because she acted on her anger through violence and made the threat to put me up for adoption because of my behavior.
I was three years old, and my mother didn’t want me. I was heartbroken.
I remember another time, in high school, when one particular morning wasn’t going well. I went to a high school across town and would ride with her to work, then drive to school. I don’t remember exactly what the problem was, but it ended with her telling me in no uncertain terms to go to hell. I drove to school as soon as I could, went upstairs to my first hour class an hour early, and cried. She tried to apologize later (she also found out a coworker of hers died the night before). I never spoke to her about it; I had nothing to say.
These are hard memories to think about, but they explain a lot. No wonder I don’t talk to her. What would happen if I did? And how else would I have learned to respond to children’s behavior? Anger and yelling always worked with me, didn’t it? Looking back, a lot of my childhood feels like one big constant attempt to earn approval that never really came. I stayed quiet, I stayed out of trouble, and eventually I learned that that was about the best I could do.
I’m not surprised that these old memories coming to the surface have ripped a sizable chunk out of the trust between me and God. What if You’re like that, too? What if You’re mad at me for the choices I made today? What will You do to me? Even though I know better, it’s all I can do to not curl up in a ball and hide…
And then Mary catches my attention. Maybe I could talk to her. She won’t get mad at me… I hope.
Saying that there’s a lot I need to work through is something of an understatement. I know I can’t do this alone.
I am beginning to realize that forgiveness is in order on my part. I need to let go of these things so I can put them in the past and move on with what is, to me, my brand new life. And forgiveness will take a long time – I don’t even fully understand it yet – but I need to forgive her. I need to let go of this anger and whatever subconscious need I have to subject others to it. It is not retribution, but it is a perpetuation of violence and anger. It does not solve the problem. I want to give it to God. I don’t want it to be a part of me.
I left my frustrations and anger at two year olds for being two year olds at the foot of the cross and got up to play with them, work on potty training, and feed them Oreos.
At 25, I don’t know when, if ever, I’ll learn to trust my mom and open up to her. It breaks my heart that I can’t talk to her and have such a fractionated relationship with her. It tears me up that I can’t share with her how wonderful, mind-blowingly awesome God is. I pray for her, and for God’s hands to be all up in this Catholic issue, every day.
I am afraid of how my mother would react if she found out I was Catholic. My God, am I ever afraid.
It occurred to me tonight how little Mother Mary and I talk. I ask her to pray for the kids when they can’t sleep at nap time, or for toddlers and babies in need of comforting. The Mother of Jesus – the Mother of God – I can only imagine what she’s like. I’m hesitant to think about that, but not as much as I am suddenly terrified of my Father beyond my own logic.
I find it ironic, though, that of everyone I could run to, it’s her I’m looking for. I have a feeling she’s trying to get my attention. She definitely has it.
Why Mary? Because sometimes, you just really need to sit down and talk with your Mother about something that’s been bothering you…