yesterday was not the day that i had imagined. there was no breakfast in bed, no flowers, no invitation to take the day off or rest or relax. in fact, two of our kids didn’t even acknowledge mother’s day at all. of course there were sweet cards and thoughtful gifts, lunch out and a trip to lush. i guess what i’m trying to say is that it was a day of really mixed emotions.
it started with a trip to church for youth sunday (two of the kiddos participated, they did such a great job, and i may have cried) and ended with a screaming match and throwing potted plants at the side of the house.
family is hard, y’all. so hard. and what i don’t want to do is rehash the details of yesterday or of the months of trying, failing, trying harder, and failing harder that led to last night because it would be pretty self-serving and petty.
but i do want to acknowledge that this life thing is strange and wonderful and hard and messy. my family is small…my mom died when i was 11 after years of battling both drug and alcohol addiction. her parents raised me, and they had custody of me long before her death. she had a sister, my aunt, and i have one cousin. that’s it. family dinners and holidays were small and we always fit everybody around the dining room table with lots of extra room. they’ve all struggled with the events of the last year…divorcing michael, marrying amber (a woman!), the kids, all the things. it’s a hard line to navigate, and i made mistakes along the way; pushed when i should have pulled, stepped back when i should have stepped up. i don’t really know all of the mistakes i made (although i’m pretty sure that somebody has a catalogued list, probably filed alphabetically and in chronological order).
we’ve talked about the loss in this space before…the people who left us because they disagreed with either the way we did things or that we had even fallen in love in the first place. until last night, i’d managed to not count my mom’s family among that loss. they struggled for sure, but they also tried. and then, last night, at the mother’s day dinner that i wasn’t invited to (the dinner that i asked about that morning and was assured that, “i don’t know what the plans are for mother’s day…”) they finally said all the things that they hadn’t been saying…we all did. and i can’t think of a time i’ve felt more heartbroken and rejected or less sure of the possibility of repairing a relationship…
that’s the best word to describe how i feel this morning. it still seems completely surreal, like maybe it didn’t really happen at all. maybe nobody said the things we all said and maybe there’s a way back. maybe the heartache is temporary. maybe i’m not expendable. maybe the phone will ring. maybe…
in the midst of the heartache, though, there is already healing and grace. (and gosh, if that’s not the best evidence for jesus loving us, then i don’t know what is.) there is the truth that we can do better for our family, teach our kids what unconditional love really looks like and keep them from the vicious cycle of approval-seeking and people-pleasing. we can nurture their true selves, love them no matter what, help them find their own way. we can show them that they are worthy, that family matters, kindness matters, their choices and words and actions matter. this family, their family, will always love them and accept them, always be a soft place to land and never exclude them or whoever they decide to love. no matter what.
this heartbreak doesn’t have to be the end.
“first the pain, then the rising.” -glennon doyle
(also, not sure i’d be functional without my wife who spent her mother’s day wiping away tears and keeping me marginally sane. there aren’t words for how much i love her or how thankful i am for our life. it’s messy for sure, but still magical even on the worst days.)
and don’t worry…that smile will be back.