Two years ago today, my mom passed away. Remembering her death is a mix of emotions for me because of a couple reasons. One, her death falls so close to my dad’s (2 days apart). Two, my relationship with my mom is drastically different than my dad’s.
If you read my post from Feb. 1st, my dad was a good man, not perfect, but everything a son or daughter would want their father to be in their life. My dad not only treated us right, but gave us an example of how to treat others and live in integrity. My mom on the other hand, was an alcoholic for most of my conscious life. She fought with it, and lost – her family, her mental capacity to take care of her self, her emotional stability, her very life. Her end is a sobering one: she died, struggling because she thought she was going to hell, holding on while literally being starved to death while on hospice. And she died alone.
I will admit that I was bitter about her reality and its affect on my life for a long time. In some ways, I still am. But the real transformation for me came when I was able to say these words to myself:
Mom is not perfect.
A lot of people assume that “I forgive you” might be the more appropriate response, but the thing about forgiveness is, the person on the receiving end of those words might not care, or strangely, might be offended by them because they don’t think they’ve done anything that warrants needing forgiveness. That was true about my mom at times…..and I was reminded of this fact by someone in my congregations last night. While my mom did seek forgiveness later on in her life…I am reminded that there were plenty of years – her more mentally and emotionally competent ones – where that wasn’t the case.
Our parents are not perfect. Even my dad, who I look up to dearly even today, was not perfect. When you’re young, mom and dad are superheroes, and that’s ok to do that…..if you’re a little kid. But as you grow up, and realize your parents aren’t perfect, I don’t think it’s helpful to continue to hold on to that image. You’ll just be disappointed, maybe bitter…..but you’ll fail to see the beauty that can emerge from your parents’ flaws and brokenness. And if you fail in that, you’ll fail so often to see the beauty that emerges from your own flaws and brokenness. I know that’s been true for me.
My mom was a broken person. She wasn’t perfect. But none of us are. And even though our parents aren’t perfect, that doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving of love and being valued – even though that might look differently than it might with others. Perhaps…..this is the realization we need to live into with all our relationships.
It’s starts with our parents. They are not perfect. And that’s ok.