Mother's Day: An Opportunity for Growth
- Catherine Hickem, L.C.S.W. Author, Regret Free Parenting
- 2011 5 May
On the second Sunday of May, mothers all across the country observe Mother’s Day. It has become one of our nation’s most celebrated holidays as evidenced by the volume of flowers ordered and cards bought. Churches will host Mother’s Day banquets and restaurants will sponsor Mother’s Day brunches. Stores will have sales, children will travel, and mothers of all ages and stages of their motherhood journey will be honored.
No one questions the value a good mother brings to her family. Healthy moms positively impact their families for generations and are grateful for the opportunity to love their families well. Most moms I know are simply grateful to be with their children on their special day and would rather have their presence than their presents.
While Mother’s Day was meant to celebrate her impact, what would happen if mothers all across the country decided to reframe the holiday? What if they used the day as an opportunity to reflect on their motherhood and be intentional about the areas of their mothering journey they want to strengthen or improve?
Most people, especially mothers, want to be good moms. They want their children to do well, be happy and peaceful, and make a contribution to the world. They want to know that when all is said and done, they have done a good job and can leave the world with no regrets. But how does this happen?
The only way mothers can come to the end of their motherhood journey with peace and joy is if they have been women who have possessed a teachable spirit, paid attention to the cues their children sent them, communicated effectively, and adapted their motherhood role as their children moved through their stages of development. This is no small task and can only be accomplished one step at a time.
Mothers will greatly improve their relationship with their children if they use the holiday to ask themselves significant questions: Is there a child I need to get to know better this year? Do I have a healthy relationship with each of my children? Have I acknowledged who they are and what I have learned from them this last year? Do I need to say “I’m sorry” for anything in our relationship? Questions like these can help guide a mother’s time of reflection as she assesses the current state of her motherhood.
Sometimes mothers can self-assess and develop clear goals to work on in the coming year. There may be other times when mothers will need to talk with each child separately about their relationship to see how she can best mother them in the year ahead. This process becomes more challenging as the child matures and becomes an adult. However, for the mothers who have the desire to grow and the courage to ask the hard questions, this exercise will only enhance the quality of their motherhood journey.
Mothers need to be aware that every child will respond differently to her inquiry about her motherhood performance. If the relationship has been healthy, the children will be honest but concerned to not hurt her feelings. If the relationship has had its ups and downs, mothers will need to reassure them they are simply asking because they want to work on being a better mother and their honesty will help her greatly. Experiences such as these will be a little scary for everyone, but it is worth it because it will elevate the children’s respect for the mom’s desire to grow.
Mother’s Day is also an opportunity for mothers to write a blessing to each child, which may also include in-laws. This message can be a time of reflection, gratitude, and insight. This letter can reveal the lessons learned by the mother from her children, which tells them the depth their mother is paying attention to their lives. It also gives the mother a chance to seek forgiveness, communicate her adoration, and set forth her desires to strengthen her relationship with them. Whatever the mother chooses to write to her children, it needs to be honest, positive, and forward thinking. Children of all ages know when their mothers are being sincere, so a letter such as this must come from an authentic place to be well-received.
Most importantly, mothers need to remember they cannot control their children’s responses to their gestures, efforts, and intentions. While every mother would love to know she is appreciated for being purposeful, her greatest peace will come from within, knowing she has done all she could do to be the best mother she could be. After all, when a mother is true to herself, she will know in her heart she has been a good mother.
Lastly, moms need to remember to keep their eye on the big picture. By reframing Mother’s Day as an opportunity to grow, they are setting a great example for their children. When mothers incorporate growth as a regular part of their motherhood journey, they are setting a “new normal” for them and this will be a tradition for their children to embrace and practice with their own children. Moms will also benefit when they comprehend they need to do what is right and peaceful in their own hearts, regardless if their children understand or comprehend what it really means. Maintaining a legacy vision will reinforce a mother’s heart to grow and be the best mother she can be. May this Mother’s Day be one that gives the gift of hope and peace throughout each day of the year.
Catherine Hickem, L.C.S.W., is the author of the new book Regret Free Parenting: Raise Good Kids and Know You're Doing It Right, (March 2011, Thomas Nelson) and is a licensed psychotherapist with three decades of experience. Hickem is a motherhood expert who has made it her life's mission to equip moms for every facet of raising exceptional children. Author, speaker, coach, and counselor, she founded Intentional Moms, a national not-for-profit organization that provides information, support, and insights on motherhood. Hickem lives in Delray Beach, Florida with her husband Neil. They have two adult children. To read Catherine's blog visit www.intentionalmoms.com