Relationships with our parents can often be complicated and painful. In today’s guest post, a friend of mine shares a revelation she received about her difficult relationship with her mother.
“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.”
I fell asleep last night saddened by the recognition that for a long time I have been ignoring, if not rejecting, my cross.
Yet I know very well that the cross is the key to Heaven. Unless I embrace it, I will never experience the Resurrection.
My relationship with my mother has always been very difficult. It became even more complicated once my husband appeared on the scene, then even more once I got married, went to London and became ever more independent and different from my family and far from my roots.
My different choices and different ways of seeing the world have been since then cause of great contrasts and at times heated arguments.
My childhood wasn’t the easiest. Although through it God has worked miracles, for many unresolved problems I have always blamed my mother.
I never thought I should have a perfect mother. Once you become a mother yourself, you soon realize the task you have been entrusted is not an easy one. You see yourself further and further from perfection. You are constantly put before your sins and your shortcomings.
Because of the difficulties in our household when we were little and the not-so-easy marital relationship between my mum and dad, she naturally demanded lots of attention and love from us children. It was all very well when, as a child, you have only eyes for your parents and naturally for your mother. But as soon as you grow up up, that love for your parents becomes of a different type. That’s when our disagreements began.
The love that a mother has for her child will never be of the same intensity as the one that a child has for the mother. That is normal and that is our nature: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. I see this in my children, that more and more they become their own persons and detach themselves from us. They channel their interest and love in other directions. With this I am not saying they stop loving us as parents or stop honoring us and respecting us. All I am saying is that this is part of the process of growing up.
In becoming one with my husband, it was very clear that I could no longer give that intense love my mum required from me. I had to shut her down on many occasions. At times I have felt tired of the constant emotional blackmail received. I have grown indifferent to her and her sufferings.
Yesterday night talking to my husband, I was unpleasantly put in the spotlight. I could see my ugly reflection. I saw myself lacking that love Christ has poured out abundantly for me. At first the mockery that only comes from the father of lies prevailed. Then I started defending myself and finally attacking my husband with the easiest possible line: “What do YOU know? You had an easy life—your childhood was an happy one!”
As we were in bed, I switched the light off and mumbled something like a “goodnight.” As soon as the light was off I was left in total darkness, my darkness. I started sobbing. I could not stop. I was angry. I was angry that I had a difficult mother. I was angry because she was not the wise and solid rock (together with my dad) to which I could turn to in uncertain moments. I felt ALONE!
In a moment the words of that day’s Gospel came into my mind and struck my heart (not without pain): “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.”
Yes! This relationship is my cross. Although lately I have been trying to ignore it and, more worryingly, reject it, yesterday it stood there before me and it was a glorious one. My heart was aching. Jesus didn’t say it was going to be easy when He pronounced those words, but through His death on the cross He came out victorious.
He went through this alone and came back to show me the way. I am so dumb I keep on forgetting He will be there to guide me, to allow me to love my mother truly, in the way He wants me to. In this situation that today, and for many years, has caused me great suffering, His glory will shine.