"Dear Mom, I'm writing this letter so I can express my true feelings without being shot down or told that I'm wrong. . ."
Well, I read that letter, in utter shock. I have a feeling it was a venting letter, not a letter that will ever truly be delivered to me, but it broke my heart all the same. After reading it, I cried. I prayed. I cried some more. I wrote a pitiful entry in my journal about how now that I've failed as a mother I suppose I'm a complete failure, and what in the world is the point to my life. Then I cried some more.
I tried to remember back to when I was an angst-filled, disgruntled kid, and how I felt about my mother. My view was very selfish. I spent a lot of time criticizing the things she did wrong as a mother and deciding how I would do everything differently. I saw only my needs and my wants. I recognized only what appeared to be injustices against me. I saw her as "the mother" and not really as a person. I suppose in a truly honest evaluation I was horrible to her at times, for which I've long-since apologized over and over.
So, why did I think my children would be different? Why did I think I would be immune, passed over by the Blame Your Mother Angel of Hate and Hurt? I supposed I had it coming.
After getting past all of that, I read the letter again, just to really hear what was being said. I had to hand it to this child of mine, the letter was well-written, and well-expressed, even if often misguided and inappropriate, maybe even downright mean. Several times I found myself wanting to correct a perception, offer new information in answer to an accusation, but then I found myself right back at the opening of the letter, ". . .without being shot down and told that I'm wrong. . ." So, I let those things go. Kids aren't supposed to have all the information about their parents' lives. They see what they want to see, and what they are allowed to see, and some of what they shouldn't see, but it's always, always only the tip of the iceberg of what is real, and what is really there.
Of course, you try telling that to a teenager. Go ahead, I dare you.
I kept reading. Slowly. Trying to discern the state of the heart of the angry writer. I felt some shame with the recognition of things I am truly guilty of. I felt sadness at the hurt I have caused, unknowingly, and certainly against my intentions. I never wanted to fail my children or let them down in any way. I took some mental notes. I thought for a second about a tearful confrontation when the child got home, but what would be the point in that? Induce guilt for having and expressing feelings? Manipulate an apology and a false I-didn't-mean-it? Instead, I heaved myself into the load now in front of me, and decided not to give up. There are definitely things I can improve upon, and chances are (please, Lord!) this child still has growing and maturing to do too, which hopefully will bring with it a deepened perspective and an increased capacity to forgive. I'll probably never reveal that I even read that horrible letter.
And at least in the end, after all the blame and criticism, and even some hurtful threats, it ended with "I do love you, Mom." So, there's something there to work with. I guess?