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Our Mother, Our Shadow

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The relationship we have with our mother is our primary one; the first one we experience, the one casting its influence on all of our relationships for the rest of our lives.

It is important we get it right.

When I say “get it right”, I don’t mean forgive and forget, love her unconditionally, or accept her treatment of you as correct or appropriate.  “Getting it right” means to come to a place of peace when thinking about her, that’s all.  Her acceptance of us at birth, during our growing years, and ability to release us into our own independence darkens or illuminates the rest of our life.

A Cosmic Choice?

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it’s not too early to take stock of that relationship and perform any repair work necessary to live a happier life.  Perhaps we chose our mother to help us through this lifetime, and she chose us as well.  Or perhaps our pairing is simply a random act of coincidence – a cosmic joke rather than a cosmic choice.

Ideal  or Idol?

If our mother was a June Cleaver from the 1950’s television series “Leave it to Beaver”, then we learned positive examples of nurturing, caring, kindness and generosity.  Those lessons benefit us in every relationship we have and our overall approach to life, personally and professionally.

If our mother was alcoholic, abusive, or simply absent—what positive lessons did we learn from her brand of mothering?  How do we apply them every day of our lives both personally and professionally?  The fact that we’re here today indicates we benefited from her challenging example.  By setting such an example, we knew from experience exactly what NOT to do when we became an independent adult.  Congratulations to those of us who survived her legacy from your path was harder, your journey mor difficult, and your accomplishments greater.

Our Attitudes or Hers?

By this point in our lives, most of us know the quality of our relationship with our mothers.  In case we need a refresher in identifying the reality behind our perception of the relationship, consider the following subjects;

·         How does our mother affect our definition of “success”?

      ·         Can we “have it all”, or must personal life be sacrificed to professional life, or vice versa?
      ·         Is it acceptable to surpass her accomplishments?
      ·         Are our ambitions and actions the result of our mother’s encouragements or a reaction to her discouragement?
      ·         Does our definition of the role of “mother” align with hers?

Whenever we enter a room, our mother walks in with us. 

Whether she’s wearing a smile of welcome for a new opportunity or the frown of fear of the future largely depends on the relationship she had with her mother.  Our mothers’ generation did not have the tools we have to analyze, intellectualize, and finally come to terms with her treatment of us.

Competition or Cooperation?

Our mother is the first rival in our life…she competes for our father’s attention and affection as soon as we realize there’s a difference between boys and girls.  She usually loses—or so we are led to believe by our fathers.  As we mature, we realize she never loses, and it would not be a good thing if she did.

Acceptance of the Agreement.

About a week ago, one of my clients called me after reading my boo “Loving Mother…No Matter What!” to tell me what her daughter wrote to her on her Mother’s Day card: she thanked her mother for her presence in her life,  and complimented herself for choosing my client to be her mother.  And, no, she hadn’t read my book—but I’ll bet her mother gives it to her for her next birthday.

Who we are today is largely a product of our relationship with our mother.  When researching my book, (“Loving Mother…No Matter What”) I gathered stories of appreciation, resentment, abandonment, intrusion, competition and control.  Some relationships  resolved themselves in a spirit of love and acceptance of each other, others continue in frustration and pain, and still others long for what “might have been”.

If our mother was “Mother Theresa” or “Mommy Dearest”, she is the other half of our agreement with her.  What if we selected her for the lessons she would teach us about life, love and our place in the world?  When we have successfully learned those lessons, we arrive at a place of peace—acknowledging her contribution of our progress on this plane

Marlene George

Life, Wellness and Business Coach