The definition of Mother [verb]:
To bring up (a child) with care and affection. To look after kindly and protectively…
I hope you shared a ton of love with your mom on Mother’s Day. Or, if she’s departed, spent time honoring her loving memory.
For me, every year’s Mother’s Day brings feelings that bubble up and kind of smack me upside the head.
You see, my mother did not personify the person they define in the dictionary. Caring and affectionate? No way. Looking after me kindly and protectively? Hardly.
Any success I’ve had, my mother has either ignored or claimed as her own. I haven’t so much as received a birthday card from my mother in the last 20 years. At 85, wheelchair bound and experiencing dementia, Mom still only wants to know what I (or anyone) can do for her.
So as I shop for Mother’s Day cards (yes, I get her cards and gifts), I have to dig through, skipping the thank you for loving me and being my biggest cheerleader cards until I find one I can give with kindness, but some integrity.
I admit it: Mother’s Day makes me feel a little cheated and pissed off.
…taking care of yourself and mothering yourself are two very different things.
Please know that I’m not sharing this to blame, get your pity or to start an I-hate-my-mom movement. Rather, I’m sharing it because I think it has A LOT to do with how we experience our worth in the world as a woman and how we attempt to build positive, loving and lasting intimate relationships.
I’ve coached hundreds of women who are dating at 40, 50 and well beyond, and finding it incredibly hard to love and be loved. After a couple years of my work, I started to see a very clear pattern: the vast majority of these smart, generous, tender women were not mothered in a way that helped them feel special, safe and ‘okay’…just the way they were.
I’m not a psychologist, but I don’t think you have to be one to figure this out: when you don’t grow up feeling like someone is looking after you, protecting you and accepting you, or when you’ve lost that person who nurtured you in that way, a deep and fundamental support system is missing.
What IS a Mother’s Voice?
I learned a long time ago that I had to count on myself for the care and protection of Bobbi. Since I was on my own after age 19 and single until 47, I got pretty damn good at taking care of myself.
But taking care of yourself and mothering yourself are two very different things.
When you take care of yourself you pay the bills, change the oil in your car and get your regular mani-pedis.
When you mother yourself you allow yourself the day off when you’re feeling ill, congratulate yourself for your hard effort even if you don’t win the contract and celebrate your quirks and imperfections as part of being gloriously human.
Taking care of myself has always come easy. Mothering myself though…not so easy.
The voice that tells you that you’re lovable no matter what, that assures you that you can do it (whatever it is) and that makes you feel good enough…I don’t really know that voice.
Too many women don’t know this voice.
It’s the voice you need to hear when you’re feeling scared, sad or alone.
Instead, what shows up is a different voice: our gremlins. Our gremlins react to our uncomfortable feelings by beating us up. They belittle and shame us. They tell us we aren’t good enough, we aren’t doing enough and maybe we should give up because we won’t ever get what we want anyway.
When I was single, my gremlins told me that I wasn’t pretty enough to be chosen. They told me that love wasn’t in the cards for me; I just wasn’t the kind of woman men fall in love with.
After beating those voices down using what I teach in Step 3 of my 6-Step Find Hope and Find Him System, and now being happily married, I’m realizing my gremlins are now attacking me in a different way.
The gremlin voices tell me that my work isn’t good enough. That I’ll never reach the millions of women I want to reach with my message of loving fully and deeply at any age. Sometimes they tell me to give up.
(I admit that it’s scary sharing this side of me with you. As your coach, though, I am committed to giving you anything I can to help you move forward and bring fabulous love into your life. And I trust in your understanding and compassion.)
A Gift You Can Give Yourself for Mother’s Day
Now at 56, with some support from a skilled coach, I’m finally learning how mothering myself can help me achieve every happiness I imagine for myself and for my husband. (Yes, I also hire coaches!)
I am learning to consciously include a tender, accepting, empathetic, loving voice in my conversations with myself. (You have those internal conversations, don’t you? They are incredibly powerful!)
My mothering voice wants the very best for me. Her goal is my happiness. She never questions whether I am worthy of wonderful things in my life; she knows I am. She is my biggest cheerleader. She loves me…completely.
When I’m kicking myself with ‘shoulda’s,’ she tells me that I’m human and doing my best. When I’m leaning toward making choices that will lead me astray, she kindly reminds me of my goals. When I feel I’m not good enough, she reminds me that I am eons better than just good enough!
When I’m feeling scared or less-than, she gives me the confidence and courage I need to move forward. She helps me trust myself.
Just like you, I‘m still learning with the help of experts. I’m starting to feel even safer, stronger and more optimistic of what lies ahead in life.
It’s a gift I’m giving myself, and I’m sharing in hopes that it is something that will brighten your life as it has mine.
Happy Mother’s Day!
To me, being a good mom is truly the most difficult and important responsibility a human being can take on in life. I have not done this myself, and have overwhelming respect and affection for those of you who are mothers.
Maybe your Mom or some other woman in your life gifted you this kind, loving supportive voice. If so, I sincerely can’t be happier for you. Remember, if she is now gone, her mothering voice can still be with you. If you don’t hear it, you can certainly give it to yourself. And I hope you do.
Oh, and one more thing: The wonderful man you’re with or will be with soon, you can count on him for support and unconditional love. But, no matter how hard he may try, he won’t be able to give you this deep, fierce, emotional mothering care. And the kind of man you want won’t want to be responsible for always keeping you ‘up’ and feeling great about yourself. It’s on you, sister.
So, if this kind of love isn’t in your life, I hope you join me in learning how to be your own best cheerleader.
I want to hear from you! What are examples of a mothering voice in your life? How can you imagine this will help you as you date and develop relationships?
If this article touched or helped you, PLEASE SHARE it. I’m sure you know women who need to hear this message. Thanks!