I woke up yesterday and I looked different. I’m not sure if it was the extra couple pounds I’ve gained recently… thanks third trimester… or if something has changed in me and I’m just seeing myself differently now. All I know is, something is different and I like it.
Coincidentally, yesterday was the day that I received the very first copy of my first ever published piece of writing. It’s a coauthored book project called Self-Love Club, in which 20 ladies have come together to share their journeys into self-love. It’s launching on Amazon on June 1st, I have a lot of feelings about it.
Last night I cracked open the book for the very first time, I’m chapter seven, lucky number seven, and I re-read my chapter for the first time in a few months. It seems that I discover something new every time I read it again.
This time, it was the part about my mother and how she was with me in my early years. My beliefs around how “well” she did have shifted recently. I guess it probably has to do with my continued investigation into how we feel emotion and codependency and trauma and so on and so forth.
Anyway, I’m not exactly sure what me looking different has to do with this, but I have taken it as a sign that a big change within me is starting to come full circle. I’m always on the look out for signs, and there have been many. One of which being the fact that I have pulled The Butterfly Maiden card from my deck of Goddess Guidance cards the past 3x I’ve consulted the deck. Everything right now just screams transformation, and this whole quarantine thing feels like the perfect cocoon for it all.
I’m an extremely spiritual person, so I like to pay attention to the small things. I like to assign meaning to things. I like to believe it’s the universe whispering to me and letting me know that I’m going in the right direction. I feel faith is a pillar of wellbeing.
So I open the book, I read the part about how she poured her heart into motherhood in my first three years of life. And I question that for the first time ever.
Did she pour her heart into it? Or did she just get to the busy-work of what she thought good-mothering is supposed to look like?
Because what did she do, really? I have no true way of knowing, other than the stories that she’s told me. After all, it was just me and her most of the time right?
What proof do I have on the quality of interactions we shared? It’s not like there was an unbiased observer there taking notes as if he was doing some sort of observational psychological study. All I have are her romantic recollections of what seem to be the only “good old days” in my childhood. I’ve asked my dad and he doesn’t seem to have any vivid memories of how it was. He was working, she was with me, all seemed well.
So let’s see… what did those moments between us consist of?
Well, she liked to tell me how much she taught me. How I was potty trained by 18 months or maybe even earlier. How curious I was and how she started to educate me on the workings of the world from before I even entered it. She would explain in great depth how the vacuum worked, and what it was for, among other things she did throughout the day. Apparently, I spoke in full sentences before I was two… stuff like that.
But my question is, what was the attachment like? How did she handle it when I cried? How did she respond when I was in distress. Were there real moments of emotional connection? Did we ever gaze deeply into one another’s eyes? When she looked into my eyes, did she just see a reflection of the little girl that she once was, that she had wished her own mother had paid more attention to? Or did she ever actually see me? Did she ever wonder who I was and who I’d become? Because she always seemed so sure she already knew exactly who I’d end up being.
Was teaching me my ABC’s the way she knew how to show love? Or was it all one big re-enactment of how she wished it had of gone down for her? A replay, a going through of motions, rather than a true exploration of her OWN emotional connection to me.
All I have to go on are my own feelings towards her- my memories and recollections of how I felt. From the time I can actually remember having feelings; maybe around the age of three or four. Truth be told I don’t remember ever feeling safe with her. I don’t ever remember having those feelings of deep comfort that you think that a child would inevitably feel with their mother. I remember going to her in distress because she was the best option, but I never truly felt at ease or able to let go and fall apart in her arms.
Now, for those of you who have never heard me speak about my mother before, I feel the need to give a side bar about the fact that she grew up in an extremely abusive household with two alcoholic abusive parents. So when I go into this inquiry, it’s not with a finger out, pointing with blame. It’s with a deep need to understand both her and myself and what happened. How we got to where we are, currently not speaking. Our most recent interaction was a voicemail in which she told me to “go die”.
I do my best to have as much compassion for her as I humanly can, with my human emotions and all. And I also do my best to work towards forgiveness for everything that’s happened since… but in the same breath… I will not deny her the burden of responsibility for her own actions.
My point here is, I guess we all try to do a better job than our own parents did. And I think, for most people, that means giving our children the things we think we would have benefitted most from if our parents had given them to us. In my mother’s example, I suppose she believed she would have benefited from more attention from her own mother, regardless of whether that attention had anything to do with a true interest in her as her own being or not. Attention in the form of teaching skills, attention in the form of grooming to fit society’s ideals of the perfect little toddler… who knows.
I know she didn’t get that, so how I can expect her to have done any better? In many ways, she did do better…
It is in my belief system to be as generous as possible with my assumptions about people’s intentions. It helps me to believe that people are doing the best they can with the tools they have. I also know that healing is hard as fuck. From my own personal experience. So there’s that too. Not everyone is cut out for it.
Once again, that doesn’t lift the burden of responsibility off of someone’s shoulders for their own short comings.
And we still have the question, what if someone’s best still isn’t good enough?
Well.. then it just wasn’t good enough.
As I’m about to become the mother of a daughter myself, I suppose I’m preparing myself for what I feel must be done differently.
I’m not completely fresh to this whole motherhood game, but in a way I am because of al the specifics of the mother-daughter relationship.
I didn’t feel the same pressure with my son- although I have given it my all, and have done a TON of personal healing work in the past few years in attempts to be the best I possibly can be for him. This is just a new layer, a new level, a new journey that I’m about to embark on.
So, will I be a better mother than my own mother?
I’m damn certain.
Because I accept responsibility in a radical fashion.
I know for a fact, that the most important skill I can hone is one of self-reflection and the ability to investigate and admit to my failings. I also have a deep and extreme need to improve and heal constantly. I’ve never been more dedicated to anything in my life.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m incredibly selfish because I’d almost always rather read books about self-help than parenting.
I reassure myself that the more I can heal my wounds, the more I will be able to approach motherhood from the TRUE needs of my child rather than the needs I put on them, from the things I feel I was deprived of. I keep hearing this Carl Jung quote that the biggest burden we can put on a child is the un-lived life of a parent and I think that’s so true and can come in so many forms.
The more I’m able to attune to my children and allow them to unfold as the beautiful beings that they came here to be, not who I want them to be.
I know my children on a deep level, they’ve been with me for several years already. I know that sounds whacko as all hell to some of you… but I’m also done caring about that.
I had a vision a few years before I got pregnant with Rosen. It was of these two incredibly strong and supportive beings walking beside me. One boy and one girl. I knew they were my children, and they told me that they were ready to come whenever I was ready for them to come.
They knew the boy had to come first to give me more time to prepare for the extra work I’d need to do to be ready for the girl.
They are my team, and I am their equal. I know they’re here to have my back and to help shepherd me as much as I’m here to shepherd them.
That’s one huge difference between me and my mother. She always loved to tell me how much more I’m like her than I know, that I’ll walk the same path she did and that one day, I’ll need her. Because we all need our moms right?
That may be true. That may be very, painfully true that we need our mother- but another thing that’s very true is that millions, if not billions of people go with even their most basic of needs unmet everyday.
What I’ve learned is how to meet that need for myself, and how to grieve what I’ve lost.
This may be deep, this may be heavy. I’m well aware.
But if you’ve gotten this far, something must be either resonating with you or at least intriguing you.
What I know is, I’m open for inquiry. I’m open to vulnerability, and I MISS writing exactly what I feel, and exactly what my truth is.
I used to do this before when I didn’t really think anyone was reading my blog. But I’ve shied away from it in the last while as my audience has grown because it feels scarier.
I’ve felt more afraid of saying the things, because I know how mean people can be on the internet and I haven’t been sure if I was ready for it. I’ve been pretty lucky thus far in avoiding the trolls. But what I also know, is that you have to take a stand for something. And maybe, I’m not sure exactly what I’m taking a stand for- but I do know it’s time to start talking about our mommy-issues.
Because if we can so openly accept daddy-issues as a thing, and call ourselves feminist- **which btw I’ve had a huge problem with that word in the last few years (former women’s studies student) but that’s an entirely different topic** then we also need to be ready as women to start owning our mommy-issues.
One of the bravest, most courageous things we can do is not just to call out our male oppressors, but to also recognize the pain and damage we cause one another as women. From generation, to generation.
The buck has to stop. We need to start looking in the mirror, and we need to start forgetting this taboo of the bad mother.
The fact is, there are a lot of them, and that’s to be expected. I realize that women and mother’s specifically have unrealistic expectations placed upon them, but that is something huge to unpack. That’s a bigger societal issue…
A part of what I refer to as radical responsibility is to renounce victimhood, and to realize that if we want to be truly in our power as mothers and as women, we need to own our wounds, our mother-wound. And the way to do that is to start shining light upon it.
The shame can’t live in the dark and if we are too ashamed to speak about our mother’s shortcomings, we will never be better. We will never heal, and the world needs us, so, so badly.