Copyright 2016 Catherine Spada. All rights reserved.
I see the way my daughter looks at her. The way her eyes filled with joy smile when she enters the room. I hear the laugher in her voice as they play together. And I see them happy. I see my mother truly happy and I know it is only by the grace of God that I have arrived at this place of forgiveness, that I have healed , and that God’s merciful love is to thank. These simple moments I witness succeed in shattering any place of hardness left in my heart toward my mother.
Mental illness unfortunately remains one of those things that there is still much silence about. Regardless of some positive movements and initiatives by major corporations to shed light on the importance of mental health, many remain alone and ashamed of their struggles. These struggles are not only isolated to the mentally ill, but also to their loved ones and caregivers. For years, I struggled (most often privately) and battled to accept the reality of my mother’s mental illness.
Her instability for much of my childhood resulted in a manifestation of resentment, hurt, and loss. I was eight years old when her suffering truly began. My parents mustered up explanations to my brother and I at the time that would help us come to some sense of understanding that “mommy is not well.” Everything changed then. It took many years before I would recognize the way that our Lord and Lady so graciously surrounded me, how much they provided for me and how this wound within would become a place of grace. My mother’s brokenness would in turn enable me to be whole, but this took much work on my part and perpetual consent to forgiveness.
Addressing the brokenness within became a serious priority when I began my return to the Church. It did not take long for the grace of clarity to set in, and for me to recognize how the lack of forgiveness and this mother wound had hardened my heart. The urgent pressing on my soul to rid itself of this ill became increasingly important as I began to recognize where I thought our Lord was leading me–to married life and motherhood.
We can often get caught up in the expectation of parents to be as gods. For years I desired a different mother. I wanted her to be something, someone so much more.This prevented me from appreciating everything she was, or from taking the time to get to know more. My father was good at reminding me to be compassionate and understanding. He held things together as most things were falling apart. It is unnatural to mother your mother, yet this is a reality that often enters into the lives of children at some point as age sets in. For me this reality entered a lot earlier. Though this wounded me, it helped make me wise.
We are not defined by the brokenness of others or by our own. As St. John Paul II once said “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son…” To reclaim this image, and by pressing on in faith seeking to understand what being a child of God means allowed the healing to begin and continue. Through growing in a relationship with our Blessed Mother and being made aware of her maternal care encouraged me to reclaim my true identity as one of God’s beloved daughters. It encouraged me to also see my mother as a beloved daughter of God. It enabled me to be a mother today, striving to imitate the virtues of our Blessed Mother and not burdened by the shortcomings of my mother, or the shadow of her illness.
The Father’s love for us does not diminish the reality of our hurts. It can not take away the wound completely. His love can birth love within our heart and renew our hope. He alone can help us enter into the wounds within and aid our forgiveness. The grace of His healing, the grace of our Lady’s love can transform us and our experiences if we genuinely allow it….
I see the way she looks at my daughter. The way she loves her. It shows me how far she has come out of her brokenness. It reveals to me how she once loved me. God’s love for me is unconditional. He does not take His love away from me on account of my brokenness, He loves me through it all. By His grace, and through the gift of our Blessed Mother I can love my mother today through all her brokenness. I am learning every day to see my mother through my daughter’s eyes.
About the author
: Catherine Spada is a Public Middle School educator and is currently loving her new role as a full-time mom. She enjoys giving presentations on chastity and sharing the beauty of the faith through her blog entitled Sacred Sharings for The Soul
and on Twitter.
Catherine resides outside of Toronto with her husband and beautiful baby girl.
Copyright 2016 Catherine Spada