For a while now it’s been on my heart to write this in hopes that it may keep you from making the same mistake I made. This is a hard one to write because it requires deep vulnerability and exposes my greatest regret. But if it helps one person it will have been worth welcoming you inside my front door. From there I will fix you a cup of coffee and ask you to join me at the kitchen table. And we’ll talk. And I’ll likely cry.
I feel like I’m about to give a good spanking because “this will hurt me more than it will hurt you” rings true right now, but it’s really for your good if you will let it be. So let’s get on with it.
I was blessed 18 years ago with this incredibly beautiful tiny baby girl. She came into the world a little early, perfectly formed and weighing little more than a bag of flour. I had done all I could to care for her during the six months I was aware she was growing to completion in me. I ate right. I slept right. I talked to her. I sang to her. I dreamed dreams for her. I loved her.
And then I birthed her.
Her debut became one of the best days of my life. Some people tell me that we should only have birthday parties for our children for a season and then we should quit because we run the risk of spoiling them.
My question for that line of thinking is, “Why would I quit celebrating God’s greatest gift to me?”
So I haven’t. We celebrate big at birthday time and it’s right for us. I have never regretted our annual celebrations.
There are, however, some things I regret deeply. One of those is the fact that, in spite of giving Abi life and endless love, I failed to give her balance. Eighteen years later there are no do overs.
I used to be very content with my Martha nature. I even liked it. I defended it. I got a lot done, worked within a schedule, knew mostly what to expect for my tomorrows and dealt well with the pressure I placed on myself. It worked for me.
Until, as a mom, I relentlessly projected my Martha nature onto my Mary natured daughter. And I was too blinded by my own drive to even recognize the damage I was doing. Or at least I liked to believe I couldn’t see the damage. The truth is, at times, I could see and I hated myself for it.
Both sides of Abi’s family are blessed with incredible people who have had lifelong struggles with their weight. I watched with sadness as those family members dealt with their own disappointment and the health issues which resulted from excess weight. Long ago, it put a spirit of fear in me. And I became determined that Abi would not join their battle.
It became a mission of sorts – a mission to save a precious young girl and teenager that neither wanted nor needed to be saved…except from me.
My intentions were pure and my love for her never wavered but my methods were messed up. I took away balance in favor of control. Rather than “you shouldn’t” and “you can’t”, I should have been teaching her balance. Balance. The balance that admits there are simply some days when an extra scoop of ice cream or another hand full of M&M’s is exactly what some great life moments are made of. Balance. The balance that teaches there are days when you need more sleep long before you need one more minute of exercise. Balance. The balance that blesses normal, healthy women over the unhealthy, stick thin models portrayed in every magazine, TV show and movie she will ever see. Balance. The balance that models healthy eating over starvation diets and cleanses. Balance. The balance that says, “You are safe with me, no matter what the media and stupid boys at school tell you.” Balance. The balance where this mom instills security rather than reacting out of her own insecurities. Balance. The balance that every Mary needs and every Martha denies.
So there you have it. Vulnerability brought to you compliments of your internet service. My personal business become your personal warning. Heed the warning. Reprogram your own sick brain. Bite your tongue. Love your daughter for exactly who she is and not for your wrong standard of who she ought to be.
I’ve apologized to my daughter. Several times over several years. It’s what I’m left with because I can never take back the wrong things I’ve done in this area of balance. And because she is an incredible picture of God’s love and grace, she has forgiven me every time I have apologized. She has even lectured me about forgiving myself. You’ve gotta love that.
I’ve also asked God to forgive me and to mend her whole in those places I unintentionally caused damage. It’s part of the process.
So, if you are the mom of a young daughter, please learn from me. Celebrate the gift God gave you. Give her the gift of balance every day.
If your daughter is grown and you failed the balance lesson with me, ask her to forgive you. Then take her out for ice cream or join a Zumba class with her. There is balance in both. Don’t miss it!
My heart just swelled.
Hi, mam. You’re such a good mother and you’re blessed with such beautiful daughter. I wish you all the best things in life.
Have a blessed day. 🙂
JoAnne Hancock said:
Thank you Mel. I have an incredible daughter. She makes my job so rewarding!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m happy for you, mam Jo. 🙂
Have a very fulfilled life. 🙂
I inserted my name in place of your name, then inserted my son’s name in place of Abi’s, and finally inserted my own well-meaning intentions and, bingo, it was my own child-rearing regrets. I had shoved both myself and my son into molds I believed were right, beneficial, and certainly Godly. So often I marvel at what a fine young man he has become in spite of my insistence on a perfect child. I have a small poster with bullet points on my closet door from a sermon given by Charles Stanley on raising your children. My son, home on leave from the Navy, added at the bottom, “obey all requests from children”, and on days when I feel myself entering a time of reflecting and regretting, I look at this and laugh. No, we can’t change the past, but we can fill the present with hugs, texts, face time, sharing, caring, dreaming, and praying. The devil takes delight when we won’t forgive ourselves; we are so certain that “our sin” is that lone sin that can’t be forgiven, a daily penance to pay. We hold ourselves to a different standard, and rob ourselves of the joy forgiveness brings. Thank you, Jo, for challenging me to be the person God wants me to be.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Jenny Merrilees said:
I love you both dearly and you are one of the best moms I know. Abi is the most balaned, grounded, centered young woman I know! You did well, momma! No one is perfect and sometimes we learn best when we make or see mistakes. Protection is a strong instinct. 😊 Jesus loved Mary and Martha!