This Mother’s Day, I’d love to reach out to all the moms out there who didn’t have a mom. Or at least not the kind you’d ever call Mom.
You didn’t have a Mom who would put a Band-aid on your knee when you fell skating, or maybe you never even got to skate with her. You didn’t have the kind of Mom you could go to when you broke your ceramic candlestick in second grade, or when your friend didn’t invite you to her sleepover party, or when you got your period. She wasn’t there for you – at least not in the way you needed – when you got married, and she certainly wasn’t there for you when the baby came, helping teach you how to nurse, doing the extra laundry and getting some groceries.
And yet, here you are, grown up, with a family all your own. Now YOU are Mom. And maybe sometimes it feels confusing. How do you lead someone down a path on which no one ever led you?
It can feel like you are carrying the weight of not just the childhood you want to give your child, but also the weight of the childhood you never had but always longed for. And now that magical childhood is here but it’s someone else’s ― your child’s.
And weirdly, you find yourself jealous sometimes. How come they get this amazing care you never did? And sometimes you find yourself at a loss. Wanting to give them just the right kind of leadership and love but quite literally not knowing what to do. It’s not in your bones. No one ever put it there.
I want you to know it’s OK. It’s not your fault. You were worthy of love always. You were worth Band-aids and Kleenex and messy kitchens full of birthday dinners and all of it. And if you didn’t get it, it’s not because of you.
It’s because maybe your Mom never got it and didn’t know how to pass it on. Maybe she was ill and couldn’t. Maybe she was working to make ends meet and didn’t have the support she needed to give you what you needed. Chances are, she probably needed a lot more help and support, too.
See, we aren’t meant to walk this journey alone. And when we try to, everyone suffers. And yet, we have this idea that we will somehow just know how to parent. That with loving our children automatically comes the ability to parent them.
But as with most things in life, parenting is a learned behavior. Either we learn it as a child, receiving the love and care in such a way that we are able to pass it on because in our bones we know it. Or we know it in our hearts but not in our bones, and then we have to learn how to transmit it. Or, some of us are busy unlearning what we learned so we can re-learn something new entirely.
Learning is no shame. It is an honor, a bravery. An act of courage that says I know what I got, but I am more than that. I have a dream in my heart that is bigger than my reality. And I am going to be brave enough to learn how to make it happen. I am going to rewrite that which was written down before me and handed to me. I will make it my story, and then it will be my children’s. And they will make it theirs.
So if this is you, please know that I believe in you. And that if it is not all coming naturally, be kind to yourself. It is simply an invitation to go inside, get clear on what you DO want your life to look like. What kind of mom do YOU want to be, regardless of what you were handed? Now go out and get it. Because it is possible to rewrite the future. And in so doing, you also get to heal the past.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Abigail is the mom of two terrific guys, 8 and 10. She assumed she would know how to parent them just because she loved them, and was surprised to learn that love is not enough, and that parenting lovingly and effectively actually requires a set of skills you can learn! After many years of research, these days she is a certified Hand in Hand Parenting Consultant. She is deeply passionate about sharing these amazing and counterintuitive tools with parents and loves that they are as supportive to the parents as they are to the kids! She can be reached at RealTimeParenting.com. She is kind, funny, and honest, and will give you a free 15 minutes any day to listen to your story and help in whatever way she can.