Society & Culture

Mother was not perfect

Helen Ann, mother of author Linda Carlsen Sperry

by Linda Carlsen Sperry

This is the first year in my adult life that I won’t be faced with a difficult, heartbreaking choice: picking out the perfect Mother’s Day card for my not-so-perfect mother.  

I know- there are no perfect moms any more than there are any perfect people. And yet we all know of, or have experienced first-hand, verbal and/or physical pain from an abusive person; someone close to us. Someone we should be able to trust with our safety and well-being. Someone that we want to love us.

I had acknowledged that my mother was as loved by God as I was; I knew I needed to forgive her for how horribly she treated me and my four younger siblings. I did not want to spend the rest of my life angry at her.  

But forgiveness is hard. And it takes time. I prayed for God’s help and was given a gift, of sorts, that made it easier: a letter found in an old shoebox written by my mother as a 12 year-old to her mom. She had been temporarily left with 3 generations of strict family members in a large house in New York while her recently-divorced mother went to Chicago to find a job and apartment. 

It was so easy to read between the lines; she was confused, sad, and lonely even though she had a young cousin to play with.  Suddenly my angry, abusive, Valium-addicted mother was a little girl who thought no-one cared about her.  It helped me understand the pain she was in. Though it was an explanation for her behavior, it was not an excuse.

By the time she died last November I was able to say I’d forgiven her and loved her.  Did we spend much time together in the last decades of her life?  No- but she knew I cared about her and that was enough for both of us.   Forgiveness is a wonderful gift – primarily for yourself.  God will help you…

The author is the editor of the Townshend community newsletter.

Categories: Society & Culture

4 replies »

  1. Thank you for your transparent article. Many, as did I, face a similar struggle. Forgiveness and the love of God is the answer. Tomorrow will be a strange day with no mother to call . . .

  2. A sad story with a heavenly end – no regrets I pray – forgiveness is powerful in so many ways, however Linda points out – “it’s not an excuse” for bad behavior.

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