It’s Not Supposed to Be This Hard

By on May 4, 2015

By Carole Towriss−

It’s not supposed to be this hard, is it?

Mothers love daughters. Daughters love mothers.

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That’s what I always thought. That’s the way it was when I was growing up.

I was raised in an era when mothers stayed home and baked chocolate chip cookies. When dinner was homemade and on the table by 5 o’clock. Though my father was unreliable, an alcoholic who left chaos in his wake, my mother was an oasis of predictably, calm and unconditional love.

But now, things are different. Far more complicated. My mom can’t log on to her email account, insisting that the computer changed her password. The laughter that used to be so common, we share less often. Sometimes our conversations deteriorate to “How are the kids?” repeated three times in fifteen minutes; sometimes they are lively discussions we’ve always had.

She’s a bit of a hypochondriac. The medical tests come back normal but she insists something is wrong. So we keep going, and they keep testing. And everything is fine…until one day it isn’t. We are sent downstairs to the lab for a blood test, and she can’t remember where it is, even though we went there exactly one week ago.

So I remind myself that she moved across the country ten years ago to be near my children and me. She wanted to attend church with us, wanted my kids to see her worship every Sunday. I remember how she taught my oldest to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and gave her her first McDonald’s French fries. I remember how she read me Bible stories and prayed with me each night before bed. I thank God for the legacy of faith she—and her mother before her—left for me. And when I am frustrated, I realize how many times I must have exasperated her.

I am part of what is called the “sandwich generation,” taking care of parents on one side and children on the other. The struggles I have with my mom are mirrored with my daughter. I have a biological daughter who is now 21, and three adopted teenagers. My oldest teen is struggling with her identity, as all teens do, and added to that is the question of why, as she put it, her first mother “abandoned her and gave her away.” We’ve been in counseling with her for a year now, trying to cement our relationship with her, to assuage fears she can’t admit even to herself she harbors, that we too will one day throw her away.

I love her enough to die for her, but when she doesn’t look like me, it’s hard, I think, for her to truly believe that. So I remind myself of the tears I cried when I first held her in that tiny, shivering mountain village, so wrapped up in blankets only her eyes peered through. When she shies from my touch now, I recall the fierce hugs she gave me as a toddler. When she has only one-word answers, I remember the giggle fits she would fall into. And when she won’t come out of her room, I cling to the memories of her sleeping on my chest.

My second adopted daughter has no issues with the direction her life has taken. She is simply astoundingly grateful God brought her to us, instead of having her grow up in an orphanage in a nation that doesn’t welcome Jesus. She thanks him for parents who love God, and the freedom and abundance of the first world, for teenage years where she can mope over the breakup of boy-bands instead of worrying about being put out on the street at sixteen, on her own with no job and few skills.

It wasn’t supposed to be this hard, this painful. Then again, life wasn’t either. But Adam and Eve made the wrong choice, and now everything in life is more difficult. And so I daily have to remember that I am not alone, that Jesus is right beside me. He will give me strength if I lean on Him. Surely I am not an easy child to raise either, but He never gives up on me.

In the end, I think the relationship between mothers and daughters must be one of the most complex things on earth. More multifaceted than multinational peace treaties, more intricate than brain surgery. But nothing else is stronger, fiercer, or deeper than a mother’s love. Even Jesus used it as an example.

Even a glimmer of it is worth fighting for. So I daily remember the good things, fan the embers, nurture my hopes, and wait for God to continue His work. For “He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 1:6 HCSB

Carole Towriss

About Carole Towriss

Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks, and waits for summertime to return to the beach. You can find out more about her Biblical fiction novels at http://www.caroletowriss.com/.

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It’s Not Supposed to Be This Hard