Dear Jen Hatmaker, Mrs. Hatmaker, Ms. Jen Hatmaker: What up, Jen?!
So. Um. Hi. Jen? I’m Marie.
Hi. Um. Huge fan. Hi. (Did I say hi? I’m sweating.)
I read your article on Today.com. Nailed it. As per usual. I was just wondering. Could you, like, tell us more about your mom?
You are absolutely right. Parenting HAS become precious in this generation. I showed up at my son’s school for Valentine’s and was all, “Guess I’m the only mom who didn’t get the memo on Pinterest-perfect 3-year-old Valentine’s Day.” Because he had no heart-shaped pancakes or heart-shaped sandwich or heart-shaped snacks. Poor thing wasn’t even wearing red. Sad face.
I just have a question. Can we talk about your mom some more?
Because me, and a bunch of my friends, we didn’t have what you had. I lost my father when I was twelve. Which changed a lot of things. My mom did her best. She loved me, loves me, a lot. But I lost my dad. And I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. While I freely ran around the neighborhood with other kids and hung out at the park until dinner time just like you, I wasn’t fine.
I was sad and lonely and lost.
Friends of mine survived their parents’ divorce, or mental illness, or abuse, or plain, old-fashioned, miscellaneous mistakes. Not everyone felt loved. Not everyone felt safe. We had similar childhoods to yours, but not the same. They, we, have scars from those years of sadness and loneliness and loss. Scars that make us not alright. We didn’t turn out fine.
So, would you tell us more about your mom?
How did she love you and leave you to be free? How did she raise you without “parenting” you? Because honestly, that escapes my imagination, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
My son’s only 3, and my twins are just toddlers. But I can feel the fear growing. The fear they will feel what I felt after losing my dad. What so many of my friends have reported feeling. Sad. Lonely. Lost. Not ok.
I wonder if maybe, just maybe, we have made parenting precious because we are all so broken. Because we are afraid if we do not coddle and hover, our children will feel sad and lonely and lost and not turn out alright. Because we didn’t. We aren’t. Alright.
Maybe we don’t know the difference between cause and correlation.
The freedom to play and imagine and roam and wander was not necessarily the cause of our sadness and loneliness and loss. But we can’t separate the two. We can’t separate the adventures in our neighborhood from the pain that dwelled within them. Or maybe the pain was a result of that childhood freedom. Or maybe our parents hovered but we were still hurt. We can’t figure out which parts of our childhood were good parts to be repeated when the feelings we have about all the parts in general are so bad.
I’ve read enough of your words to know you feel so tender for us. I know. I feel tender for my friends, too. Moms who can’t ask, “What would my mom do?” (Like my own mom, who lost her mother when she was only 9.) My sister-mamas who want their children to experience not one bit of the painful past they lived through.
Here’s the thing. Maybe we’ve made parenting so precious and denied our children freedom because our past pains still enslave us and we ourselves are not free.
I would love to stop feeling like I need to “worry endlessly, interfere constantly, safeguard needlessly, or overprotect religiously” lest I become a “bad mom.” But I think those desires speak more to my lack of trust in God and my lack of healing over my childhood loss than they do about the alrightness of my children. Maybe that’s just me.
So, will you tell us more about your mom? About her love for Jesus? And what it looks like to be locked out of your house in a loving, whole, Jesus following home?
And how broken people like us, who didn’t turn out alright, can be made new and healed, and give our children the freedom they need?
How can we stop parenting from a place of pain and regret and fear? Tell us: what would your mom do?
(Also, unrelated, where do you get your earrings?)