It’s almost Mother’s Day again. It comes every year without fail. I try not to play the “society says we celebrate this today” game, but it is hard when I grew up in an environment where conforming was a life or death situation. And even if I attempted to ignore it, I probably couldn’t. My kids are now old enough to remember these days on the calendar. That is great for a single mother on Mother’s Day. But that can be bad when I might otherwise want to pretend it is just another day.
I can get through Mother’s Day because I am a mother. I can do my best to focus my attention on what a great mother I am (most days). I can celebrate myself and all I do. And the kids are great for my ego too. No matter how many times I screw up, they still think I am pretty awesome (except when I make them eat vegetables and clean their room). I usually get some homemade cards or trinkets and that is just perfect for me.
But there is something in the background on this day. There is a dull hum saying “something isn’t quite right”. And that makes sense. I don’t spend Mother’s Day with my mother or my grandmother or any other woman in my family for that matter. I don’t go to the traditional overcrowded and overpriced brunch with 200 of my closest family members to celebrate all the mothers that are keeping the family name alive. It is just me and the kids, and a good friend I am blessed to have in my life.
While I logically know this is much better than the overcrowded, overpriced extended family extravaganza, I still feel that dull hum. And I know what it is. My inner child is still searching for the mother she always wanted. Don’t get me wrong. She isn’t searching for her biological mother … not exactly. She is searching for her biological mother transformed. She wants her to show up in her life as a different person. She wants a kind, patient, loving mother. In other words, she doesn’t want her biological mother.
She wants the impossible. She searches for that one external woman who can be her mother. But that can’t happen. There is only one woman who put her on this Earth and she isn’t willing to fix anything. She isn’t going to solve this problem for my inner child. The only person who can solve this problem is me. I have to step up and be the mother to my inner child. I have to be the one who listens with kindness and patience. I have to be the one who gives her time to explore her passions. I have to be the one who helps her cope with her painful experiences. I have to be the one who helps her transform her beliefs and release herself from the trapped life she lives.
I know all of these things. But nobody taught me any of these things. That’s the irony of this, isn’t it? If I had a mother, I would know how to be a mother to myself, but I wouldn’t need to be. But since I didn’t have a mother, I have to figure out how to be one to myself without much guidance at all. The good news is we have the internet and some great parenting experts who use it. And I also have external children to help me with it. Thank God they are forgiving. But they also let me know when something isn’t working. It isn’t always direct, but they definitely let me know. And as they teach me (sometimes with much pain), I can help myself too.
And one day, I will wake up on Mother’s Day and not feel that dull hum that something isn’t right. I will wake up and know that I can and will meet the needs of my inner parts. I will know that nobody else is necessary to make me happy. I will know that my external circumstances will not be a deterrent for my inner peace. I will know that my life is right here and right now. My life is sitting in front of me. My two children and a breakfast tray of burned toast and soggy cereal will be all I need.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW
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