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Wednesday, December 26, 2007


"Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been over fourteen years since my last confession." These are the words I said to the priest when I went to confession last week. I had only been one other time. My friend who goes said how great he always feels after he goes, I decided to give it a try. I gave things some thought and wrote down what I wanted to remember. Of my sins the one that the priest advised that I should work on was the one where I said that I have problems honoring my mother and father.

He gave me some advice. He said to try to work things out by clearing the slate, by drawing a line on the sand and not bringing the past into the situation. So I did just that. My mom had called to get together before Christmas, so I told her to come on the 23rd and that I would make her lunch.

She got here pretty much close to the time that I told her to. She normally arrives way early. She gave us gifts and we gave her some. She ate the food I had prepared like she had not eaten in three weeks. There was little conversation during lunch, because there was no room to get any words in, in between bites. She did not interact with the kids. The only time she even held the baby was once when she knocked him down. He (in my opinion) is a cutey so I have a hard time understanding how she could avoid holding him. Sophia tried to talk to her and she just ignored her. She sat on a chair in our living room for about another hour watching football and not speaking. She abruptly got up to leave and within a few minutes was gone without so much as a "Merry Christmas."

As far as my father goes, I just sent him a Christmas card with a photo of the kids. I did not write a letter or anything, I just wanted to open the door. It has been at least five years since I have seen my Dad. My last dealings with him were super taxing and I had pretty much closed the door forever.

Now that Sophia is getting older and starting to ask questions, I know I have to have some answers for her or at least I feel like I should have answers for her. She recently asked me if my mother was dead, because she did not know who she was. When my mom came for the Christmas visit, Sophia asked what her name was. Sophia is a super sweet kid that would love anybody, but my mom just seems so cold and soulless, like she did not even know who the kids were.

So have I fulfilled my pennance? Have I done what I should? Do I continue to hold out for answers or is this as good as it will get? Should I persue anything else with my father or just completely leave things in his court?

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Anonymous Kat said...

People don't really change. If your parents were cold and distant in the past, they aren't going to suddenly warm up. How a grandparent doesn't gush all over your two beautiful kids is a sign of mental illness to me. (No disrespect intended).

6:50 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Kat - I am almost positive that my mom has some mental illness, of course she would never go to a doctor to find out. My dad when you see him is not distant, but I think he forgets that I exist. Anyway, I feel like I have tried to make ammends.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Barbara (aka Layla) said...

Linda, I think you have done your part, and the rest is up to your parents. I agree with Kat that there is something very wrong with your mom, its sad no matter what the cause. Your kids are precious and to a typical grandparent they would bring tons of joy. It sounds like your mom is not capable of that.

I have a strained relationship with my mom and years ago I realized she would not change so I had to accept the fact that she was incapable of being kind to me.

As for the priest - I think you ARE honoring your parents! Honor does not mean you have to like them or hang out with them. Do you do anything to disrespect them or defy them? No. You have done your part.

Your kids are blessed to have two awesome partents even though its sad they miss out on the grandparent connection.

2:22 PM  
Blogger HLiza said...

It's really difficult in your situation..especially when only efforts are made by one side..not from them. Your mom didn't seem to care or try to make any effort to change anything. I think you'll just have to go on with life and assure you kids the best love you can and tell them the truth when they can understand. You'll be a better mom than your mother, for sure. You just can't change her but you can make sure your kids don't feel the same about you. Hugs my friend!

1:19 AM  
Blogger Claire said...

Oh, my heart just hurts for you! I think that Barabara is right in saying that honoring your parents doesn't mean liking them or being with them but means not disrespecting them, talking badly about them etc.; however, I DO think that honoring them would include praying for them. Sounds like they need some change in their lives that only God can accomplish...not you, not a friend, not a priest.

As to other things...maybe keep sending them a Christmas card (at least your dad). Maybe he just needs the reminders of who he has out there...he might surprise you one day. Praying for you and your family. Hope you had a great Christmas!

1:50 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Both of us spent some holiday time in confessional.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Rev. Brandy said...

Hey Linda

It's been a while since I've been here - I'm sorry I missed this post. I don't know how I did - I check your blog really regularly.

I believe that "honoring our parents" can be done at a distance. My opinion is that you can love your parents - flawed as they are; as we all are - from a safe distance where you won't end up hurt anymore than you were before, and you won't be imposing them on your children. I think you have a wonderful opportunity to teach your children, when they are old enough to understand - but certainly incrementally, if you choose to love your parents from a distance - that love comes in many forms. And sometimes when we change and grow, the people around us aren't necessarily changing and growing. And if they are unhappy people who are hurting, sometimes all they know what to do in return is hurt other people. We can love them and pray for them and care about them, but we don't have to be *with* them if they are hurtful people. All people deserve love. Some people just don't realize that they do.

Your "honoring" doesn't have to be in a traditional sense. You can let go of the past and embrace who your parents are as people without subjecting yourself to more pain and unpleasantness. Facing the rejection of a parent is very hard. And now, as a mother, it is probably in some ways harder for you to understand it, because your maternal instincts are so strong. How parents can turn their back on their children seems impossible to fathom. And yet, parents do. It isn't about us. It's about them. But continuing to subject yourself to something that hurts you may not be the best answer, either.

Sending you and your beautiful children lots of love.

10:13 PM  
Blogger The Mad Hoosier said...

Sorry I'm chiming in on this late. I like what Rev. Brandy said. I would also remind everyone that for many, particularly older adults who have not spent time with kids for a long time, emotions can not be turned on and off like a light switch.

My father-in-law, who does have a mental illness, wasn't very warm to my oldest daughter when she was a baby. But I know he adored her...he talked about her to other family members, who relayed this back to us, constantly.

It took quite some time for him to "warm" to them. I know many people think it is the kids who should be given time to "warm" to adults, but that simply isn't always the case. Now, he plays with all of my kids and showers them with such love that you'd never know he was ever hesitant to show such emotion towards them.

I would also go a step further on "honoring" your parents. I've struggled with this myself lately. I think that you are really hurting yourself and your kids if you aren't able to "know" your parents...know their situations growing up...know their thoughts and feelings over a variety of historical topics...etc.

For instance, as I sit here, I realize that I have no idea what my father thought of JFK. Sure he was in high school when he was killed, but surely he has some thoughts on the subject.

I feel like I owe it to myself, and to my kids, to find out these things. They are only around for a short time, and if I can't even begin to understand their life, how can I teach my kids a variety of perspectives merely by the things I have lived through?

I did a post on my own blog about needing my father(I'm in my 30's and I still need him), but how he was still so distant. I felt as though I had made an adequate attempt, so I felt that was enough. But something just kept tugging at me. All it takes is one topic...for me it was open the door. Then, all I had to do was get him to see that not all of our conversations had to be twice-a-year, hour-long conversations. It's only been two weeks, so I've got a long way to go, but our most recent converstaion was like 5 minutes, just to make sure he was on through the recent storms. I just want to get him used to hearing my voice every week, even if it is only for 5 minutes. Then, eventually, if I'm lucky and blessed ehough, he will begin to start calling me.

Sorry to leave such a long reply on your blog. I didn't mean to. I think you have made an outstanding first step, and even if it's the last step too, it was miles better than nothing. But I encourage you to continue to try. Your situation may be much different than may know all about your parents perfectly well...but they will still only be here for a short while. Who knows how short.

Perhaps you could call your mother, just to tell her how much you appreciated her much the kids enjoyed seeing her. Maybe that's not exactly true (though your kids may realize in the future that they did enjoy meeting their grandmother), but it's one more step than you would have taken. Wouldn't you feel better knowing you went that extra step?

Going the extra step is an excellent thing to teach your kids. Maybe even call your mother while your kids are in the room...then have one of them talk to her...even if just to say hi. I don't know how old your kids are, but my kids love talking on the phone, no matter who it is too...just someone extra to tell how their day was.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Thanks for all of your comments and Hoosier thanks for stopping by.

The strange thing in all of this is that I also have a step-father (raised and adopted me)that I have similar issues with. The Sunday before the new year, I was sitting with my daughter during the children's liturgy of the word at church and the person teaching was telling the kids that sometimes there are people that you don't like and that maybe you should go the extra mile to be nice and at very least pray for that person.
The Saturday after New Years I got a call from my sister and she told me that my step-father had had a heart attack. I felt like somebody was really trying to tell me something about this whole parent thing. I decided that I would not visit, but told my sister that I would continue to check on him and pray for him, but I would not be able to go and see him. He was an abusive father and I really don't want my children around him.

The things with my other two parents have not changed. Sophia has asked about my father a few times in the past couple of weeks. I will continue to let things slide with my parents and take things very slowly. I will probably contact my father by mail again, maybe for his birthday or something (late March). As for my mom, I really don't know what else I can do for the situation. She may be lost for good, again I really don't want my kids around such and unstable situation.

I appreciate all of your comments and each one gave me something to think about. I will keep you posted on my progress. It could take a while to figure out my way. In time I may need some addtional suggestions.

Thanks again!

9:08 PM  

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