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Ink Slingers Michelle Motherhood Parenting Spiritual Growth

What to Do When Your Mother Betrays You

tearsI remember the day like it was yesterday and yet it’s been over 30 years ago. I was only 10 or 11 years old and I was feeling down. I would easily cry and often spent my time worrying about things that no child should ever have to worry about. Those years were tough ones for me. I wondered where God was when things were so terrible and questioned whether or not He would help us through the horrible events that were occurring within our family. I felt like I was in an unending nightmare and no one was going to ever save me. Sexual abuse had invaded our family and left most of us kids wondering how we were going to survive the repercussions of allowing it to come to light. Night terrors haunted my sleep and tears flooded my days.

I longed to draw close to my mother during this time and yet she kept her distance. She wasn’t an overly affectionate woman to begin with, but during this time it seemed she was even less so. It hurt to feel completely shut out.

Fed up with my despair, my mother took me aside one day and demanded that I tell her what was wrong. I started to cry. She asked again, “What is your problem?” Through my tears I quietly responded, “I don’t think you love me as much as you love everyone else.” Tears streaked down my cheeks and embarrassed, I brushed them away.

My mother took one look at me, removed my glasses, and then proceeded to slap me across the face over and over again saying, “I love you just as much as everyone else!” When she finished she told me to go to my room to sit on my bed so I could think about what I had just said. I sobbed and sobbed into my pillows. Her reaction was all the proof I would need that I was right… she didn’t love me as much as she loved everyone else.

My mother was always one to volunteer in our classrooms as room mom and she ran us everywhere for scouts or gymnastics or volleyball. From the outside she was very involved. From the inside things were different. Her heart was guarded and our true needs were often ignored; some of us more than others. As I got older I would see this time and time again. Still, she was my mom and I loved her. I wanted us to have a good relationship and so I worked at it tirelessly.

But then, when I was 30, something happened in our family that made me sever ties with her. She refused to stand up for what she knew was right and instead let me take the blame for something that was clearly not mine to take. My heart was broken and I knew I could not allow her to hurt me in this manner anymore. For several years I just stopped trying.

One day she called to say she had cancer. I’m sure you’re thinking at this point in the story I am about to say her cancer changed everything, but that’s not how it went. During her battle with cancer I did my best to check up on her, but because we lived 800 miles away, calling was all I could do and so I called often to check up on her. She would eventually be declared cancer-free. I hoped her brush with cancer would help her understand what was truly important. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Our relationship was civil, but strained.

I lost our sweet Joseph in March. I called to tell her he was gone and she showed no emotion. When I told her we planned to bury him on our land she questioned the legality of it but never once offered her condolences. In the months that followed she didn’t call to ask if I was doing ok. I was devastated. When she finally did call to wish our son a happy birthday I asked her what was going on. I told her how hurt I was that our loss didn’t matter to her. My heart poured out with every word I spoke. I couldn’t stop myself. Peppered with anguish and despair, I asked her some very hard questions. Most importantly I wanted to know why she had always treated me the way she did and why I was always pushed to the back burner.

That day I heard words I never thought I would hear… “You’re right, Michelle. I did. I am guilty of everything you are accusing me of. I had no choice though. The circumstances of our life just meant that I had to choose and I chose the others over you. It was necessary.” There was no apology, only recognition of the hurts she had heaped on my heart. Now I knew… it was necessary.

forgivenessDespite the hurt, that day I decided to forgive her. I didn’t forgive her because she asked me to or because she had admitted she was wrong. She did neither of those things. I forgave her because I knew if I didn’t I would never begin to heal from the hurts she had caused me. I vowed to try again to have a relationship with her. That was June.

In November my mom called to tell me that her cancer was back and that it was bad. The doctors hoped they could give her 3-5 more years. I told my husband she would be gone in a matter of months. We lost William in December and a week and a half later my mother entered into hospice care. I went to be by her side and help take care of her. I spent as much time with her as I could but eventually I had to leave to take care of my own family. She died shortly after I left. She died surrounded by my other siblings and my step-father. My brother was the only one besides myself that was not there. I’ve often wondered if she waited until we left before she died. I’m not sure. I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

I tell you this story because I learned a few valuable lessons throughout the years and I hope they will help you as well. Perhaps you dealing with a toxic relationship with your own mother and you just don’t know what to do about it. I’d like to offer you some advice…

  • Love her even when she’s unlovable. Try to have a relationship with her. Be kind and respectful even if she is not. Talk to her to find out why she acts the way she does. There may be a story you don’t know that could help you understand her.
  • Pray for her. There is true power in prayer. Ask God to open her heart to you. Ask God to bless her. Pray that she opens her heart to God.
  • Give yourself permission to leave the relationship if it truly is toxic. Just because she is your mom doesn’t mean you should have to endure abuse, neglect, or hatefulness. We are taught not to challenge our parents as a sign of respect but we have to remember to respect ourselves too. If your relationship is toxic you can (and should!) cut ties without feeling guilty.
  • Forgive her. Don’t wait for her to ask you for forgiveness, just grant it to her. You cannot heal if you are holding onto to hurts from the past. When your heart is full of hate, despair, or worry you have no room for God’s love. Empty your heart of those hurts and allow God’s love and forgiveness to heal you.
  • Remember that God will provide you with other earthly mother figures that will help you through when you need it most. Really look at your life to see who those mother figures are. I promise they are there. Cherish them!
  • Turn to our Holy Mother. As Christ hung suffering on the cross He gave us the gift of His mother. “Woman, behold your son!” and then to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” By giving His mother to John He also gave her to us. He knew we would need her. Turn to her in your time of need. She understands all that you are going through. She loves us and wants to help us. She longs to cradle you just as she did Christ as a baby. Run to her loving arms!

We don’t expect our mothers to betray us, but sometimes they do. Sometimes because of their own life circumstances they are unable to give us what we truly need to grow and they are unable to be the mothers we need them to be. We have to trust that God has a plan to use these struggles to help us become the people He knows we can be. Practice patience, love, and forgiveness. You will find that your heart will begin to heal from the hurts inflicted upon it. It will take time, but He will heal you.

Thank you, Father for the gift of our Holy Mother. Help me to cling to her when I am in need of consolation, love, and hope. She is not only the mother to Your Son but she is our mother as well.

mother mary 1

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Domestic Church Fatherhood Homeschool Ink Slingers Mass Motherhood Parenting Raising Saints Vocations

Goal Setting in {Catholic} Homeschooling

Before setting your goals for your homeschool take a moment first to make a list of why you want to this. Once your list is completed, circle or highlight all of the most important or positive points from your list. Think of this list as writing your own defense ahead of time against naysayers. This way, if someone questions you about your decision, you now have a list in your head of well thought out reasons as to why you are now homeschooling. This list should be composed by you and your spouse so that you both are on the same page from the start. If your children are older, you may also want to include their reasons as well. Including the children from the onset also helps them explain why you have chosen this as a family. It will equip them with reasons should anyone ask them (believe it or not even strangers will ask them). So what should be in your educational philosophy statement? You should ask yourself the following two questions:

  • Why are you homeschooling? (tip: do not stick to only the negative reasons)
  • What is it that you would like to accomplish with your children? (hint: think in general terms mostly)
  • What are your children’s gifts and/or impediments?

Now grab this list and create a one to two paragraph Mission Statement. This will also come in handy to re-read on those more challenging days. Now that you have an Philosophy Statement written, you are now ready to start setting goals. This is long term goal setting. Now think of the specifics of how you will accomplish your statement. Make five lists under these categories:

1. religious goals – obviously, have to do with matters of Faith and the Church
2. increase in virtue goals – have to do with those things that teach manners and build character
3. academic goals – depends on what each child’s abilities are
4. extracurricular goals – join teams, choir, co-ops
5. social goals – sometimes covered in other areas but still important to incorporate

Since some states require you to submit your goals when you begin homeschooling, this list will come in handy. Make sure your goals are realistic, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure from the start. Here are some examples of each goal by category:

1. Religious Goals:

  • go to daily Mass
  • go to monthly Confession
  • get son involved in altar serving
  • get children to join the Church choir or schola
  • follow the liturgical calendar; follow it more closely

2. Increase in Virtues Goals:

  • children to be polite and use appropriate responses in conversations
  • sit correctly at the table and learn appropriate table manners
  • learn to be helpful around the house with chores
  • to be charitable with others specially parents and siblings
  • to learn to be appreciative of what God has provided us

3. Academic Goals:

  • have child needing testing for learning issues or possible high IQ
  • complete a grade level within the required time frame such as 180 days or 9 months
  • advance student in area(s) they are gifted in
  • support student in areas where there are gaps or having difficulty with
  • attend therapies for those students needing it such as occupational therapy, speech, and reading remeditation

(You can also look up any of the Scope and Sequence of any of the Catholic Curriculum providers for ideas in this goal and then tweak it for your family.)

4. Extracurricular Goals:

  • look into getting involved in a co-op in your area so that students can participate in group activities
  • find out about clubs like Blue Knights or Little Flowers
  • join a sports team or individual sports like tennis or swimming (some offer programs during the day for homeschoolers)
  • take music lessons individually or as a group
  • participate in a homeschool band

5. Social Goals:

  • join a manners class or class like the Junior Cotillion League
  • join a youth group, if of age or participate at your parish’s events for kids
  • attend events at your parish for families
  • go to the park, you’ll be amazed how many other homeschooled families you will meet there
  • join a play date group

In conclusion, setting goals will help create a vision for what you and your spouse would like for your homeschool to be like and also it will give you a list of well thought out reasons in case anyone questions you. It will help you feel more confident about your decision to Catholic Homeschool. This list is also a great thing to have around and revisit, and possibly tweak, each school year. Having goals written will help you and your children stay focused, motivated, and on task. Describe four enabling goals needed to achieve the long-term goal. Keep it to four or five minimum as each year you will set more age/grade specific ones. Each year you should use these goals as the foundation for whatever curriculum or yearly goals you set for your children.

 

What’s Next in the Catholic Homeschooling 101 Series? Next week we are going to discuss homeschooling methods. I really like the way that Catie over at Our Catholic Homeschool has set her’s up by style and then the pros and cons. I suggest you visit her blog and see what she did to get an idea.

Did you miss our past posts?

10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling

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Ink Slingers Margaret Mary

Two Heavenly Mothers

The month of May is special month because we honor our Blessed Mother. I don’t think it’s a coincidence we celebrate Mother’s Day this month, too. It only makes sense that we honor our earthly mother along with our heavenly mother at the same time.

For as long as I can remember, my earthly mom told me to pray the rosary. “At least one decade,” she would plead with me. “Sure thing,” I snarled, annoyed at the thought of repeating 10 Hail Marys, let alone 50. What I failed to realize was that I wasn’t supposed to just “recite” the rosary; I was supposed to “pray” it. Guess I never heard the word “pray” come out of mother’s mouth. And to be honest, I always felt like I was disobeyed my mother by not praying the rosary!

But the seed was planted. The rosary seemed to be my mother’s “security blanket.” As she got older, she was in and out of the hospital. Each time, my first question would be, “Does mom have her rosary with her?” If not, I would bring it to her.

I didn’t view my mom’s devotion as admirable, but I didn’t see it as silly, either. It just was. But I could never figure out why she had so many rosaries. She could only pray with one at a time! (Now, that seemed silly to me.)

Over time, mom would keep encouraging me to pray the rosary. But it wasn’t until I left Michigan and moved to Texas in my late 40s that I finally heeded that advice with some help from a religious sister at my church. Sister was another great influence on me, with her devout faith that included praying the rosary daily. She taught me to meditate on the mysteries through Mary’s eyes.

Oh, so that’s what Mom meant! I get it now.

But I had to start slowly; praying all five decades at once wasn’t easy for me. So, I began praying one or two decades in the morning, one or two during lunch, and finish up in the evening. I found it easier too, if I prayed with EWTN, a Catholic television station. I wasn’t praying it perfectly, but I was praying. I can only imagine the smile Our Lady had because I was at least trying and gave up making excuses. I know my earthly mom was proud: I still remember calling her and telling her I was praying the rosary. I could hear her beaming over the phone lines, she was so excited.

I try to pray the rosary every day. I find it peaceful and relaxing. Praying scriptural rosary has given me a whole new insight into our Lord’s life, which gives me insight into my own trials. When I follow along with a CD in my car, I find myself being a better driver, too. One of the many beauties of the rosary is I can pray it any time, any where, even in a long line at the grocery store.

Over the past few years I’ve built quite a collection of rosaries myself. They’re by my bed, in my bathrobe pocket, purse, and car. Guess mom’s collection wasn’t so silly after all.

Sadly, in February, my mother passed away. She requested a closed casket, so when my husband and I made the trip to Michigan for the funeral, we went straight to the funeral home so I could have my proper goodbye. I put my hand on top of hers and thanked her for teaching me to pray the rosary. I then prayed the Hail Mary with her. I just know she was praying with me. About two months after she died, I had a wonderful dream. I dreamt mom and I were praying the rosary together. I felt so much at peace when I woke up from the dream.

I thought Mother’s Day would be hard for me this year. And to some degree, it was. But I’m so blessed knowing I have two mothers looking after me from heaven: my earthly mom and Mother Mary. Now that’s a true blessing.