Making Peace with Mom
- Thursday, May 02, 2013
Would you say your relationship with your Mom is as good as the relationship you have - or hope to have - with your own children? Or is it something you'd rather not talk about?
As I was writing my book, When A Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, I discovered that some of the deepest wounds in a woman's life can be traced back to her relationship with her mother. Whether it was having a critical mother, an emotionally distant mother, or a mother who never affirmed or spent time with her children, many women today still feel affected by the dynamics of their relationship - or lack of one - with Mom.
Yet, who we are today, as women and moms, is in many ways shaped by who our own mother is - or was. And therefore, our relationship with Mom is not something we can simply ignore. Making peace with Mom, whether she is still alive or not, is essential to our souls, as well as our ability to be an inspiring, influential mother, ourselves.
If you are a woman who bristles at the thought that you are shaped or influenced by your mother, I encourage you to let go of some of that hurt and embrace the positive qualities your mom had that you might not have recognized before.
Recently, as I surveyed moms and daughters of all ages for my upcoming book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I found it interesting that those who spoke most favorably about their mothers were speaking in hindsight - their mothers had passed away and they were no longer able to have a relationship with them. Is it because when we finally miss our moms we choose to only remember the good things about them? If that's the case, and your mom is still alive, we can do our hearts good by finding the positive aspects of her mothering now, so we don't have the heartache later of having never expressed to our moms our appreciation for what they have instilled into us.
My own mom was extremely creative. And she was constantly involved in something interesting - like writing and directing theatrical productions in town that she let her children be a part of, or transforming our big backyard into a child's wonderland with a duck pond, a creek and bridge, a sun deck, a tree house, greenhouses, bird aviaries, and even a tall-ceilinged, wood-paneled and carpeted "library," complete with electricity, so I had a place to house all my books that I would loan out to my neighbors and friends as I played "librarian." It was incredible what my mother could build, create and accomplish.
Yet, as incredible as my mom was while I was growing up, I am saddened now to admit that for most of my early adult years, I focused more on what I perceived as my mother's faults than her strengths. After my daughter became a teenager and started expressing a critical spirit toward me (that was interestingly at the same age I became critical toward my own mom, by the way) I realized just how hurtful that must have been to my mom and how very much I wanted my daughter to overlook my weaknesses and focus on my strengths. But I realized, in order for my daughter, Dana, to see me in a positive light, I had to be a woman who could see my own mother in a positive light. I needed to be a woman who could praise, love, and appreciate my mom in the same way I wanted to be praised, loved, and appreciated by my daughter. Now that I'm older, and a mother myself, I can see my mom through more gracious lenses, through the lenses of a mother.
As I've aged (and especially now that I have a grown daughter of my own), I have extended more grace to my mom in those areas I felt she didn't do so well because I realize I am so capable of doing or not doing the very same things with my own daughter. I have also focused on the good things I've acquired from her and ways that I am happy to be like her because not only am I grateful to her for how she invested in my life, but also I want Dana to show grace to me someday, in light of the mistakes I have made in raising her. I want my daughter to remember the good things I did, imitate what she liked in me, and recognize where some of her positive qualities might have come from.
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