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.
One way to make peace - or just have a better relationship - with your mother is to release any resentment you may feel toward her about hurts you experienced while growing up.
The Bible instructs us "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men," (Romans 12:18, emphasis added). Biblically, it is our responsibility to make the first move. And sometimes that is just a matter of expressing love and appreciation.
Take a moment, right now, to think about who you are as a woman and how you have been positively influenced by your mom. Are you compassionate because of how you saw her treat others? Are you ambitious because of what you've seen her accomplish? Are you creative or detail-oriented because she was or wasn't? Do you love to cook because of what she taught you in the kitchen?
I encourage you to spend a moment pondering these three questions:
1. What did my mother excel at?
2. What did my mother teach me?
3. In what ways am I most like my mother today?
When you take time to answer those questions thoughtfully, you may discover that your mom had a more positive influence on you than you realized. As you gain peace in your heart about your mother, you can free yourself from the draining effects of bitterness and start to be the kind of mom your children need you to be. When we are struggling to forgive our moms, or harboring resentment in our hearts at how we were raised, that bitterness shows up in ways we may not realize or expect. If you have children, it's important let them know you love your mom (even if it's an "after she's gone, I've forgiven her" type of love).
Would you consider contacting your mom through an email, letter, phone call or card and telling her what you appreciate about the positive qualities you inherited or learned from her? As you bless her, God has a way of bringing that blessing back around to you. And if your mom has departed this earth and you don't have a chance to do that, write out something for your own heart's sake and share it with a family member or friend. You may find it is healing to finally, in your heart, make peace with Mom.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life's Hurts, and her upcoming release, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, from which this article is adapted. For more on her books and free resources to strengthen your soul, see www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: May 2, 2013
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