By Bindu Adai-Mathew
For this past Mother’s day, I got flowers…ahem, actually, let me clarify…I got texted a picture of some flowers, accompanied with the words “Happy Mother’s Day” from my husband. I was in Houston with my daughter and we were visiting my family, specifically my own mother, for Mother’s Day weekend. When I got the text, I chuckled and called to thank my husband for his thoughtfulness. The next day when I arrived back in Florida, I fell quickly back into my routine, and it wasn’t until the end of the week that it hit me that that my husband never gave me my Mother’s Day card or gift!
So one evening, I playfully approached him, hands clasped behind me as I trotted to him like he was Santa Clause dispensing Christmas gifts. “Hey honey, did you forget something?” I asked, coyly smiling.
He was completely engrossed in his computer but finally glanced up from the screen. I batted my eyelashes, flashing him all of my pearly whites.
“I forgot something?” he asked, smiling at my playfulness. But then he glanced back down at the computer and absently asked, “What did I forget?”
“You know…for Mother’s Day…”
He glanced back at me with a blank expression. Ahhh…nicely played, I thought to myself. His innocent act is very convincing. Internally, I was rubbing my hands gleefully together as I imagined all my possible gifts…perhaps it’s a cute outfit, a mani-pedi gift certificate, or ooooh, maybe it’s a nice massage!
But rather than rushing to the closet to pull out my nicely wrapped gift, he continued to sit on the couch, staring at me with a truly perplexed stare. “But I sent you flowers…”
“Huh? You did? I didn’t get any flowers.” Had they been delivered to the wrong address? Maybe they arrived at my parents’ home after I left…no, my mom would have told me.
“Remember…the text…I texted you flowers!” he stated matter-of-factly.
Now it was my turn to give him the blank stare. “Seriously?” I asked, hoping he’s kidding.
Apparently, he was not.
He shrugged his shoulders and smiled half-heartedly like it was no big deal that he neglected the mother of his only child on Mother’s Day. He focused his attention back on the computer screen. As I stared incredulously at him, I momentarily imagined using those cyber flowers he texted me to beat some sensitivity into him.
I can’t help it. I know it sounds petty to whine about not getting a gift…but to be honest, I was really looking forward to some small (or not-so-small token) of recognition for my daily sacrifices as a mother. Unlike my birthday, where just by virtue of being born, I am remembered and honored, I feel like I’ve EARNED my Mother’s Day recognition.
Yep, that’s right for all you moms with teenagers…you heard me. In the 20 months that I’ve had a child, I feel very deserving of my mother’s day card and gift. In my defense, my 20 month old toddler finally started something early—her “terrible 2’s!” So yes, in recognition of still not sleeping through the night, in recognition of the tantrums, all the personal sacrifices we moms have to make, I felt quite deserving of this Hallmark and FTD Florist-sponsored holiday.
I really wasn’t expecting anything big, but I wanted to feel special. I wanted to feel valued. Even a card would have been nice. Okay, maybe not just a card…but a card with a giftcard in it would have been nice. Or cash. I would have taken cash.
An avalanche of feelings threatened to overwhelm me as I stood there, mouth open, in dumbfounded stupor, knowing my husband could so casually and so off-handedly brush off this once-a-year day like it were one of those pseudo-holidays like National Polka Dot Appreciation Day.
I began to feel undervalued…unappreciated…and unloved.
Not wanting to start a fight over something so seemingly petty, I forcibly reminded myself of what a wonderful husband I do have.
After all, when he proposed, he whisked me off to Catalina Island and proposed to me water-side. For a significant 30-something birthday, he surprised me with a surprise birthday dinner with 20 close friends, followed by a trip to Naples with ocean-view rooms and room service.
Yes, I reminded myself through gritted teeth, I have a very good husband. He helps me with our daughter…he even occasionally helps me clean the kitchen or load the dishwasher…and he doesn’t complain that I only end up cooking twice or less a week. I have a good husband.
My anger dissipates, but others feelings remain. The God-sized hole in my heart opens again as as I battle feelings of insignificance.
All because of a Mother’s Day gift (or more accurately, a lack thereof).
But it’s not the gift. It’s the God-sized hole that no matter how many wonderful things my husband does, he’ll never be able to fill. That hole is a like a black hole, always sucking everything in like an industrial vacuum, like negative energy… but never quite satisfied.
As I stew in self-pity, I begin to recognize the quiet, empty place. I’ve been here before. In my youth. During my 20s. Even after marriage.
But it is this quiet, empty space where God speaks to me, reminding me…
I am reminded of a friend who lost her dad when she was only 12. Losing him at such a young age had left her with her own God-sized hole in her heart. She blames her poor choices in men, her desperate need for love on her attempt to fill that void that her father left.
How ironic, I thought. All I could think of was how having my dad around was the cause of my problems…his bi-polar like personality, coupled with his short temper, left childhood scars that I’m still trying to overcome and compensate for as an adult.
My friend blames her father’s absence on her God-size hole while I blame my dad’s own personal issues as creating mine.
And then there’s the other friend. She had a good father. She didn’t lose him at a young age. In fact, he is still healthy, and they remain close. But the kind of unconditional love he showered on her made her long for that same type of adoration and devotion in her marriage.
Even AbbyA described the hole in her heart left by the dad whom she adored but was often very busy : I spent a lot of time over the last year and a half longing for and wanting to be some of those individuals. I felt like they somehow “got more” or were on the “inside.” And, I was on the outside.
God showed me that despite our background, our experiences, we are all created with God-size holes in our hearts. We try to fill it with other things. Some people chose materialism…some chose drugs…and many of us chose the opposite sex. We pin all our hopes, our dreams, our expectations on our significant other’s ability to fill that hole.
But that’s the thing about God-sized holes…only God can fill them.
My prayer for each of you is Ephesians 3:19: May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.