Imperfect Relationship

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”  

~Donald Miller~

Mom likes me.

Her mind has accepted me as her sister or her friend or the nice lady that comes to visit and holds her hand.

When I was younger, prior to the care of mom and dad as they lost their independence, mom had a critical side. She always felt the need to tell others what was wrong, rather than what was right and positive, including her daughter.

Your dress is too short.

When are you going to get those dog hairs cut?

Why don’t you have children?

Your father and I are so disappointed that you don’t have children.

That last comment stung for a long time. Mom was not a cheerleader and she expected life, friends and family to fit in the perfect bubble she imagined. I heard her speak the same language to dad and about others. On occasion, dad would ask her, “Why do you have to be so critical?”

I never figured out what made her that way. Was it due to growing up in a family of 15? Did her mother or father speak to her the same way? Was she simply a “glass half empty” kind of person, always forgetting the positives in her life?

I will never know.

Once I decided to let go of the “disappointed” comment, our relationship seemed to improve. When Saturday shopping adventures with mom and dad and duties as their POA began, mom stopped making negative comments to me. When I announced I was filing for divorce, mom cheered me on. (She asked me a month into separation if I was dating. I thought that so funny, but I believe she simply wanted me to be loved and happy.)

I am not now and was never perfect, but mom finally decided that I didn’t need to be. Perfect no longer mattered. In her eyes, the positive scale finally outweighed the negative.

Since mom’s dementia took a downturn last May and she turned 97 in August, there have been many days when I ask God, “Why are You keeping her here? She can hardly hear, hardly speak, and her mind is a scramble of past and present. What’s Your purpose for her?”

I never get an answer, although I have an inkling what this is about.


Mom and I have a wonderful relationship, even though she doesn’t know who I am. There’s no criticism, no expectation of perfect, because I’m no longer that person to her. Whoever I am, she likes and accepts the Mary before her. We talk, we hold hands, I push her around in her wheel chair, she says something nonsensical and I laugh. Then she laughs. When mom talks of “going home,” I tell her, “One day soon.” When mom talks about people and events that are unfamiliar to me, I nod and smile. When I ask mom what she had for lunch, she replies, “I don’t remember,” but then goes on to tell me about her own mother’s cooking. I agree with mom when she tells me the Christmas tree is black and her younger brothers were just there to visit. We have crazy conversations and, yet, they always soften my heart and speak of love.

During the days of hurt, I didn’t want to talk to mom. Now, I miss her severely if I don’t see her every weekend.

Relationship doesn’t always come easy, but mom and I have left perfect behind and we like…nay love each other in ways I never expected.

This1linerwedsbadgewes post has been brought to you by my mother, imperfect relationships and Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday. Click HERE to see additional one-liners in the comment section. Feel free to play along by posting your own one-liner and linking your post to Linda’s.

32 responses to Imperfect Relationship

  1. Dan Antion says:

    You have come to a great point of view, a great point in your relationship and I thank you for sharing that. We all have things we should let go of.

  2. We, humans, are complex individuals. I’ve been a daughter and a mother and there are certainly things I wish I had done differently. You are lucky that you have been able to been able to establish a working relationship while your Mom is here. When she passes, you won’t have regrets, and that will be a really good thing. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I am so blessed to be in good standing with mom. I see others who are estranged from a family member and it makes me sad. Forgiveness and letting go in a relationship are key to it’s success.

  3. Joanne Sisco says:

    I think that negativity may have been in part a generational thing and a product of the hardships and disappointments that came along the way.

    My mom too liked to dwell on the negative and I was often the brunt of many of those comments. Even when I did do something ‘right’, the praise was more often ‘back-handed’. It was a long time before I recognized that it came from a place of loving and caring.

    It’s a powerful message to ‘let it go’. Being a witness to the aging process on a loved one is really difficult. How lucky you are to reach a point of mutual content with each other ❤

    • bikerchick57 says:

      You may be right, Joanne, about the negativity coming from their generation, growing up during the depression and a world war. From what mom tells me, her parents were very strict (they had to be with that many kids) and I imagine that may have also played a part. I’m very fortunate that I was able to get past all that and into a good relationship with mom and I’m glad you were also able to let go. Hugs!

  4. loisajay says:

    I had to let go of my mother’s negativity toward me. Letting go was the best thing I could have done. You have it figured out, Mary, and that is a good place to be.

  5. kathryneann says:

    This was a beautiful read, Mary. Thank you for sharing it with us. I was fortunate my parents lived to ages 86 and 87, although divorced. No Alzheimers. Blessings on your remaining time together!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thank you, Kathryn, for your encouraging words and your blessings. My dad lived to 95, but he had his mind and wit almost to the end. My mom has not faired so well, but it’s not helpful to despair because I can’t change anything.

  6. JoAnna says:

    This post means a lot to me on at least two levels. One- my parents are both gone now and I wish I’d been more accepting of my mom and thankful I had more time to spend with my dad.The other is that, while I’m usually a positive person,I’ve had a tendency to be critical of my daughter. She’s 23 and naturally pulling away from me, but I don’t want her to pull too far away. Since she no longer lives with me, I’ve been working on not saying anything critical and just asking questions and cheerleading. Reading about your experience and how the criticism made you feel is a good reminder for me.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Joanna, thank you for sharing the relationship with your daughter. I’m going to shake my pompoms for your cheerleading. It really does make a difference and your daughter will thank you so much, whether she says it to you or not. As for mom and dad, I also wish I had spent more time with them – when they were younger and I could learn more about their families and lives. It’s one thing I regret because I imagine they had very interesting stories to tell.

      • JoAnna says:

        Thank you for the encouragement! My dad had some amazing stories. I’m wondering if other relatives can fill in the gaps for you. Older people in general have a lot of great stories.

  7. WOW….beautiful. I lost my mother when I was only 19 and I did not get to raise my daughter. Though both of these things are true and I have worked my whole life to accept them, I still wish it could have been different.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I’m sorry you lost your mom at such a young age and that you didn’t get to know your daughter. That has to be tough at times, so I’ll keep you in positive thought for continued acceptance and peace.

  8. joey says:

    I love-hate these pieces about your mom. I always feel so much, so deeply when I read them. They’re sad, but also, all wrapped up in love and it’s just… all the feels.
    My mother’s a good one, probably cause she had one, and so I hope I carry that on. Everyone’s mother is the voice in the back of their heads, right? I hear it plenty. I hope my kids do, too. I hope it’s less of ‘I didn’t raise you like that’ and more ‘Floss’ but who knows.

    I think it’s so wonderful your mother likes you know, this special lady who calls on her ❤

    I feel compelled to tell you that I am OFT disappointed in my eldest daughter, but that the saving grace of that is at least she's given us grandchildren!
    I truly do not care about the mating and breeding habits of others, and I can be rude about how it's no one else's business — but with my own kids, I have So Many Opinions. Which I keep to myself, LOL –because my mother taught me it's none of my business 😉

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Your mother is a very wise and good woman. As for the sage advice you give to your own children, I hope they remember more than “floss.” How about “brush” too? LOL! And don’t forget to tell the grandchildren.

      I’m in a very good place with mom, so happy to see her every week with none of those “opinions.” Makes for better conversation 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks Linda, I will enjoy every moment with mom. I have not read Susan’s book, but I may have to order it. Understanding dementia and Alzheimer’s comes best from someone who has been affected by either.

  9. LB says:

    Mary, I am moved by your words.
    I admire you for being able to move on and for loving this new relationship.

  10. dweezer19 says:

    The best relationships are the undefined ones. Natural, they flow like a river. Im glad you are in a good plaace with her. All my best to you both. I miss my Mother in Law so much. She was more like my Mom. I used to go to the nursing home to visit her. I would ask what she had for lucn and she would say (during the good days) “I don’t remember. But it was good!” And we’d laugh.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks for your best, Cheryl. We both appreciate it. I’m sorry you didn’t have more time to laugh with your mother-in-law. Those are the times with my mother that I hold dear. I love to see her smile!

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