Present Perfect Tense

I was loved as a child. Fiercely, intentionally loved! Yet, despite their very best efforts my parents didn’t manage to get it right. I have lots of baggage. I travel with some exquisite designer luggage, created especially for me, along with several crumpled paper sacks claimed by millions. I won’t go into great detail about my personal impedimenta, but as I was reading an article this morning, I was reminded that there is a universal trunk of psychological trauma and it is generally laid at the feet of our mothers.

The article that caught my attention was all about recognizing toxic mothers. Why is there never an article about toxic fathers? I mean, I have met a few noxious men in my day! Where is their guilt inducing article on Facebook? Yeah, you’re right. They wouldn’t read it anyway! This particular writer described a toxic mother as one who expects her children to behave so that she will look like a competent mother. There was the usual comments about trouble with boundaries. It mentioned we mothers who exaggerate about our children’s accomplishments and paint a rosier picture than truly exists. Did you just hear the collective “ouch!” from mothers everywhere? No mother EVER in the history of mankind has said “Isn’t my baby the ugliest baby you’ve ever seen? ” The jokes about Jewish mothers are funny because they are so true! Who wouldn’t want to brag about their son… the doctor?

Yet, mothers try so hard to be more than just a cliche. Why do we struggle and fail to get it right?(Whatever right might be for our particular brood.) We fail to get it right because we are tense. Yes, tense as in our muscles are as taut as an over-tuned guitar. The adjective tense originates from the Latin word tendere meaning stretched. Moms are very familiar with this type of tense! It is hard to be present and perfect all the time! But there is another meaning for the word tense that comes from the Latin tempus meaning time. I think if we take these two meanings and mash them together we come up with a pretty good explanation for our failures. Our ancestors’ sins stretch across time and space filling us with a tension that feels like an old friend whose name we can’t quite remember. Young mothers will understand this the first time you realize that your baby walks just like your dad or laughs just like your sister! Some things are just beyond a mother’s control. Ahh, that pesky C word. Satan knew just how to get Eve, didn’t he? As much as I would like to change it, my name is still NOT GOD!

If you haven’t already guessed, I am a word nerd with a capital N! As a student, I enjoyed diagramming sentences. The Bible tells us God is Love. Using love as a verb, one could say God is the Present Perfect Tense. He is not confined to a specific time frame. Because he is not bound by time or space , He is not subject to conditions. His actions are pure and intentional. Parental love, in comparison, is the present IMPERFECT tense, sometimes called present habitual tense. As love, moms and dads are an unfinished action. We are subject to conditions. Sometimes our love is influenced by how we ourselves were loved and like it or not, some of our baggage is gonna spill over into our child’s suitcase! (Just an FYI, prayer helps to lighten everyone’s load.)

Like my parents and their parents before them, I didn’t get everything right. I loved fiercely and intentionally, but imperfectly. So the next time I read an article that fills me with guilt I am going to remember my name is Not God. I did the best I knew to do at the time. I am so thankful that God loves my children with a love that is present and perfect. Relax those tense muscles, mama, God’s got this!

Published by alisonbaird765

I like to write. I like to tell stories. Let Me Tell You A Story was born out of a desire to share personal memories that make me smile, chuckle, or sometimes cackle out loud like a deranged old crow. I hope you enjoy them, too.

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