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  • SuePattonThoele

Dropping the Mother Lode

Motherhood ricochets us between extremes. Being a mother and talking honestly with many other mothers, I’ve come to believe that mothering is the most intensely emotional relationship there is. Nothing is more exhilarating or exhausting. The joy of watching our babies—whether grown under our hearts or adopted from them—sleeping and making sweet sounds is almost unbearably joyous. On the other end of the spectrum, nothing compares to the searing pain experienced when our children are in distress. Whether they are ill, injured, dying, or suffering consequences from their own or others’ bad choices, we walk through fire. If they don’t like us or treat us badly, we are catapulted into the deepest abyss.

And guilt... guilt is the perpetual Mother Lode. A card I saw proclaimed “Behind every great kid is a mom who’s pretty sure she’s screwing it up.” I don’t know about you, but that pretty much sums it up for me. I especially felt guilty about what I considered my inadequate mothering of my first child. The adage “The moment a child is born, a mother is born also” helped assuage some of my guilt, but like many of us, I took a long time to forgive myself enough to be free from the mother-guilt burden. Truthfully, forgiving ourselves is the only answer. In reality, 99.7 percent of us do the best we can and deserve forgiveness for whatever we did, or didn’t do, that we regret.

While the vast majority of us are not negligent or abusive mothers to others, we can be to ourselves. This is too bad because our kids grow up and need mothering only occasionally, if at all, while we can benefit from an internal Good Mother for our entire lives. I originally mistyped that as God Mother, rather than Good Mother, and actually think that’s an appropriate analogy. How great it would be to have a goddess-like energy within that we could count on at all times. I’m going to follow my own possibly divinely orchestrated typo and internalize a God Mother, and invite you to do the same.

During your day...

  • Gently, but honestly, ask yourself if there are beneficial mothering changes you could implement. If there are and you don’t know how to make them happen, it is wise and loving to all concerned to seek help.

  • Through forgiveness, drop whatever mother lode you are carrying. I am sure you do/did the best you can/could.

  • Be a good mother—a God Mother—to yourself. Speak and act in nurturing and supportive ways to yourself. Be the angel on your own shoulder.

There’s no way to be a perfect mother and

a million ways to be a good one.

—Jill Churchill

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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