From a wife…. thank you for sharing!!! I know many of you will relate.
I don’t know why my mom hated homeschooling so much. I don’t know even that it was so much homeschooling, or that it was just my life choices in general that she didn’t appreciate, and homeschooling was the last straw for her.
Basically, as long as I agreed with her opinions and let her have her way in my life direction, it was great between us. But as soon as I differed from her she was greatly offended. After becoming a wife and mom with a family of my own, our relationship became more strained with every passing year. My husband would tell me in later years that for the first 5 years of our marriage it felt like he was married to my mom.
When I became a Christian, it wasn’t received well. She said I was already a Christian because she got me baptized when I was a baby. I tried to explain to her that this was different, that God was really real and that I had never had Jesus before. That getting me baptized when I was a baby was a great thing for a mom to do; but it wasn’t my choice, and it needed to be my own choice.
Although I let this conversation lay, she wouldn’t let it be. It became a ‘back burner’ kind of point of contention between us. When I did decide to get baptized on my own, she considered this a personal attack on her parenting, reiterating again, that she had already taken care of it. That I was only doing this to ‘get back at her.’ I tried to help her understand that I thought she had been a fantastic mom and there was nothing I wanted to ‘get back at her’ for – but I couldn’t get her to see that I was a different person then her. It seemed everything I did that was different than what she wanted, she saw as not only a negative reflection on her somehow, but also an attack on her person.
As the stress grew, parenting our first child became a challenge to her at every turn. I’m not going to go on and on about it but only share a few examples so that you understand the temperature of the relationship.
-Beavers. We were struggling with our son because he was an introverted ‘bookie’ type kid, favouring long hours of reading, drawing, playing legos and building models and creating things out of raw materials. At her leading we thought we’d try him in Scouts (Beavers was his age group). He hated it. But we made him stay for two months, finally allowing him to leave. She chastised me for this and considered it a grave mistake to let him drop it. Her words were, “Shelly, YOU AND I agreed this would be a good thing for him.” Now, whether or not it was a good parenting decision isn’t the point. The point is that he was mine and my husband’s son and we made a decision to drop it. Yet she insisted, insisted that I change my husband’s mind and put our son back in Beavers. When I didn’t, but instead, supported my husband’s decision to take him out, this became another point of ‘back burner’ contention between us. It was constantly brought out in conversation.
-Gameboy. We didn’t want our kids playing electronic games (screens) until they were a certain age. We preferred more tactile stimulus for their brains. But according to my mom all the kids were playing with these electronic gadgets and she could see no reason for him to not have one. She tried over the course of a year to talk me into it. This would be going against what my husband and I had agreed to. She bought it for him anyway and gave it to him on his birthday.
The most overarching contention that I dealt with on a regular basis was that I was not bringing in an income, but was instead staying home to homeschool. She didn’t like that we didn’t drive a nice car and only had one, didn’t have new clothes but bought second hand instead.
And then – the needling directly at the kids started.
-“don’t you miss having lots of other kids to play with?”
-“don’t you miss field trips to this place and the other place?”
-“wouldn’t it be fun to do such and such?”
Our kids were involved in extracurricular activities. They were in sports (if they wanted) music, homeschool groups and functions, volunteer work, newspaper routes, dog walking businesses, yard care businesses, church activities etc. But for some reason these things were not acceptable – because they didn’t come through the school system.
On and on it went – for far too long. And yes, it was that blatant.
Finally, God stepped in. He told me I had to stand up to her and not back down.
I was physically sick at the thought. You see, I was wounded and terrified when it came to my mother. The thoughts of really challenging her and not backing down frightened me. Over the years I had been freeing myself from the control of her personality, bit by bit and this was the strain on our relationship. I believed God thought I was strong enough now to be direct with her. He told me what to say and how to say it to keep me on track. Prepare your thoughts in point form. This is what He wanted me to say:
-Hey mom, I’ve got to ask you to please not talk negatively about our choices to the kids anymore.
-There is nothing wrong with our choices to have one income so that we can homeschool, so please don’t make any more negative comments about it.
-It’s not fair to try and get the kids to go against our choices for them. This cruel to do them, they don’t have a choice – it’s our choice as their parents.
I started to cry after I saw what God wanted me to say, because I knew that she would not accept it. I knew she would take offense af it. But also, it seemed confusing to me, there were no other Christians in my family, I know He knows what will happen. He told me to call her in the morning.
But I didn’t. He told me to call her the next morning but I didn’t. This played out every day for 1 ½ weeks. And then God said something to me that changed my life. I was standing in the kitchen looking at the phone, list in hand, and God said, “Do you realize you are more afraid of your mother than you are of ME?”
Scales fell from my mind (so to speak) – and the phone rang. It was my mom (too weird, right?)
I followed God’s directions and tried to plead with her to accept our choices. This was a ‘no-go.’ She felt that it was wrong for me to try and tell her what to think and say around the kids. That everyone who comes into our home isn’t going to share our opinion of homeschooling. I tried to get her to understand that I didn’t want her to change her opinion about homeschooling, and that my husband and I, together would be willing to sit down and address any concerns that her and dad had (which we had done already, a few times over the years); but it had to stop with the kids.
The conversation fell into its familiar circular pattern: it was turned so that somehow it was me attacking her. (which is why God told me to write down the points and stay on track and stay calm) At this point I asked the ending question: “What are we going to do about this mom?” And I heard the words that no kid wants to hear from their mother, “Well, I guess this is good-bye then because I’m not going to have people in my life that won’t accept me for who I am.” That was the last time I talked to my mom.
For those of you who don’t know, this is what the narcissistic personality is like. I only found this out a few years ago, I thought my mom was just super controlling. As is common with this personality, when there is this type of conflict, it is necessary that everyone else (in the family, or wherever) know just how offended they were; how right they were; and how wrong the offender (me) was. This is how they segregate you out, not just away from themselves, but the rest of the family.
But that doesn’t change anything, really. I still needed to forgive her (and my dad), and my brother and sister.
For the great news!
What happened is that when I turned to God instead of my own pain and gnawing rejection, He freed me. (a LOT more difficult than it sounds, all neat and tidy in one sentence)
PLUS He became much more real on so many levels. How does God become more real than REAL? If you allow Him, He’ll meet you EXACTLY where you are.
I had sinned against God. Yes, I was the one that suffered the abuse, however, I had also sinned myself. My identity was completely entwined with my mothers, this was her doing; but I had tried to fix myself by my own methods – this was MY sin. God is God, and He will have nothing between us and Him. He is first and although I said I believed that and thought I believed it, as I went through this experience it allowed me to see into myself in a way that I never would have otherwise.
Pain, if you’ll let it, will peel back all the self-made barriers (self-vindication and self-protection) so that you can see your real self. These barriers do a very scary thing – they separate you from others – and God. But I didn’t see this, and once you start building them, it is virtually impossible to stop without God’s intervention – it just becomes who you are. You make a little protective cocoon around your heart, weaving strand by strand, ever so slowly. You don’t think you are doing this and you can’t see it, and no one else can – only God.
Inside this cocoon I had hidden my wounds. This is what God wanted to get at and heal.
The first place God met me was here: Although my father and mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. –Psalm 27:10. When God lead me to this verse I actually cried out in anguish. I’ve never experienced anything like this since. When you experience this kind of rejection it feels negatively surreal. It is as though you are losing your footing mentally and emotionally. I could feel God behind me saying, this is real. What you are feeling IS real – but I’m here, right behind you – fall into ME.
Forgiveness allowed me to see clearly. This isn’t about me and my mom (as much as it seems like it is), it’s about God and me. It’s about Satan hating God and hating me because I’m His daughter. This is what the adversary does to us: he uses people to do to us what he wants to do to us. Without forgiveness I would never have seen the truth of it. Vengeance does not belong to me but to God. I don’t know His plans, He does. People do bad things to us, but God means it for good. He will bring the good out of ugly – if we will just trust Him and wait for Him. (Gen 50:19-20; Rom 8:28)
I can now say like Job did, “I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You.