The relationship a child has with its mother determines the way that adult will interact with the world around them. Their perceptions, feelings and actions are all filtered through the lens that connection provided. Those of you who have followed Blessed be the Tie for some time will know that I have suffered from mommy guilt. As mothers it is hard to balance work and life. We get so focused on providing the essentials for our children that we lose sight of what is really important, like our time and affection.
Withholding or neglecting to give love and affection to our children can have dire effects on their characters. Children who don’t receive the attention they desire at home search for that affection from other sources. Some adults spend a lifetime trying to fill the void left from childhood. To counter the effects of leading busy lives as mothers, it is essential that we take the time to incorporate mommy and me time for our little ones. Those mommy and me moments don’t have to be elaborate. It could be as simple as a morning routine singing a song together as your little one gets dressed for school. Those moments have the ability to strengthen the mother/child bond and create memories that will last forever.
If you haven’t been watching OWN’s Greenleaf, you are really missing a treat. The Greenleaf family is the Black church royalty that presides over Greenleaf World Ministries in Memphis, Tennessee. The Greenleafs aren’t without the secrets, dissension and drama that plagues most families. Their drama is only amplified by their position in the church and community.
I imagine that Lady Mae was an integral part of building the church empire that affords their lavish lifestyle: think private jets and a full wait staff. She was probably so focused on assisting her husband in seeing his dream come to fruition that she only concentrated on providing her children with the necessities of life. She forgot how important spending quality time with her children was to their well-being. Now her children are all grown-up and they are still seeking for the approval, love and affection of their mother. There are four very distinct signs that Lady Mae didn’t make mommy and me time a priority:
Greenleaf begins as the family gathers for Faith’s funeral. She is said to have died by drowning in the family lake, but the family suspects suicide. Faith was molested by her Uncle Mack (Lady Mae’s brother) as a child. Faith has lived with the realization that her family didn’t believe the allegations for her entire life. A fact that was made even more uncomfortable because she had to face her tormenter day in and day out. One can only imagine that the relationship with her mother was forever tarnished after this incident. It seems that Faith withdrew into herself, only opening up to minister to the children of the church.
Mommy & me tip: After the allegations Lady Mae should have made an extra effort to spend time with Faith. Faith needed her mother’s love and affection more than ever after such a traumatic experience. Therapy would have also been in order.
It is ironic that Grace’s name means God’s favor. To exist in this family she needs an abundance of that. Grace is the prodigal daughter who fled the home to live life on her own terms. A former minister in the family church, Grace has made a career as a journalist. When her sister Faith commits suicide, Grace is forced to return home to attend her sister’s funeral. Only her father seems to be happy for her return. Lady Mae welcomes her child with a terse warning not “to sow seeds of discourse in her fields of peace”. To which Grace responds,
It seems the contempt is mutual. Even her siblings seem to resent Grace’s return. The family dinner turns into a peacock show where every child is preening for attention. The backstory of the relationship between Lady Mae and Grace hasn’t been revealed. What we know is that when Faith was molested by Uncle Mack, Grace was the one who told her parents. Her mother’s unwillingness to believe the truth has set Grace on a lifelong journey of desperately searching to find the truth in every situation no matter the costs. I imagine it must be hard to even fathom that your brother would do something so heinous. But, as mothers there is no job as important as keeping our children safe. It seems that Grace never forgave her mother for not taking the allegations seriously. But Grace Greenleaf is there to expose all of the secrets this family is keeping. “For by grace you have been saved, through faith…” Ephesians 2:8 Faith’s death brought Grace home and Grace is going to save them all from themselves.
Mommy & me tip: If Lady Mae thought Grace made up the story about Faith’s molestation, she should have spent some time with Grace one-on-one to discover why she would make up such a story. We always want to ensure our children feel comfortable telling us anything they need to discuss.
Charity begins at home, or so the saying goes. No one takes Charity seriously. Not her mother, father, siblings, the choir director or her husband. Her only outlet seems to be her music. She is a talented singer who leads the music ministry at the church. Somehow, Charity seems to think her offering isn’t enough. She wants to preach. She is a timid woman who lacks the confidence in her abilities, because she wasn’t reinforced as a child. Everyone is born with certain gifts and talents. Charity’s gift happens to be music, a talent that no one else in the family possesses. She wants to preach because her father is a preacher, Grace has preached and her brother preaches as well. In her mind her contribution to the family dynasty is inadequate. Children who feel inadequate grow up to be adults who feel inadequate. No amount of reinforcement from outsiders will replace what should have been instilled at home.
Mommy & me tip: It is too late to give Charity the reinforcement she needed as a child. Lady Mae should support any endeavor Charity wants to attempt to show that she believes in her. Children need to hear how wonderful they are- often. They need to know that what they have to offer to the world is special.
Jacob is the only son in the Greenleaf family and the apple of his mother’s eye. He can do no wrong as far as she is concerned. He has been coddled and overindulged his whole life. Now he is an adult who thinks the world owes him something. Even when it is revealed that he has been having an affair with his father’s secretary she insists that he be reinstated to the ministry. He was given a job that he obviously isn’t qualified for because his daughter says he downloads his sermon from the internet. His mother’s love has been both a blessing and a curse to Jacob. Just as Jacob’s mother in the bible encouraged her son to attempt to take ownership of something that wasn’t meant for him. Lady Mae insists that Jacob remain in the ministry, even when it is clear that his heart isn’t in it. It is easy for someone who does so much for you to control you. The control is so subtle that most people do not even realize what is happening until it is too late. Jacob has married a woman who is almost exactly like his mother in that she controls (or attempts to) him as well. The relationship he has with his wife is strained because of his inability to lead. Why should he when he has been led his whole life?
Mommy & me tip: Children need to know what is expected of them. The consequences of not being obedient should be clear and followed without exception. This instills discipline. When they make mistakes they should be corrected and held accountable.
Motherhood isn’t easy. There is no manual to instruct us on the right way to raise children. We have to do the best we can with the resources that are available to us. Can you think of any other things Lady Mae could have done to ensure her children grew up to be happy, whole members of society?
cover photo: greenleafown.tv