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4 Surprising Ways to Mother Yourself

May 10th, 2014 by Melinda Blau

My mother, one of her five sisters, and "Bebe" (their mother)

Your mother/ yourself.
Whether she gave birth to you, adopted you, or married into your family…

Whether she is a distant memory or a frequent visitor…

Your mom–or any woman who “mothered” you–is in you, for better and worse.

Mothers, Grandmothers:  Do yourself a favor this Mother’s Day:

See your mother through adult eyes. She is more than the woman who took care of you as a child.  Be a detective. Find out what she’s like as a person–what she cares about, what holds her interest, what music she loves, her favorite foods, stories about her childhood and past loves.  Interview her as if she’s someone you just met.  If she’s no longer alive, ask family members about her.

Right-size her role in your imagination. If you’ve got her on a pedestal, see her vulnerabilities as well as her strengths.  If you’re still holding grudges, let them go. Give up the power struggle. It’s not doing you any good.  Instead of being reactive–blindly imitating her or trying to be her polar opposite–make conscious choices about what works for you in the here and now.

Appreciate your common struggles. View her choices as a mother through the lens of your own motherhood.  Can you understand better–given the circumstances of her life–why she was strict or lenient; why she was a stay-at-home mom or spent time out of the house; why she was interested in everything you did as a child or seemed more interested in herself?  Can you appreciate that although you “mothered” in a different time, you are affected by many of the same social forces that constrained her life?

“Bank” memories of your mother. Gather photos:  the two of you, you as a child and teenager, her as a girl, her with her mother.  Sit with them.  Let yourself remember the stories–the good, the bad, and the sad.  Let your feelings, especially mixed feelings, flow.  Savor the experience. Save the photos in a scrapbook or scan them into a computer folder. Jot down notes and remembrances. Then, share the result.  If your mom is still alive, make two copies–one for each of you–and view them together.  If she’s not, sit down with your children (or a close female friend) and tell them what you learned about your own mother.  Understanding her will help you understand yourself.

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