Mothering Myself

I told a whopper of a lie the other day.  It popped right out of my mouth so easily and with such fluidity that it honestly surprised me how much of a ring of truth the words seemed to have to them.  I was on an airplane in the middle of a rather deep conversation with a co-worker when they asked me about my Mother.  In response, I immediately found myself saying that she had passed away.  It is a bit hard for me to believe I did this, but I spontaneously told this person that my Mother was dead.

Well, my Mother is not dead.  She is alive, and with all my whole heart, I hope currently living well somewhere between her houses in Texas and Colorado here in the USA.  But if truth is to be told, one of the main reasons this lie made it’s way forward is that my Mother and I share a relationship that is rather complex when compared to most people’s experience and understanding.  You see, by her choice, I have not heard one word from my Mother for well over a decade.

Those who read closely here on seeingM may have noticed that I do not often refer to my Mother here.  This is not because I actually love her any less than my Father, but has more to do with the fact that her influence in my life has left me more often than not, struggling to communicate about her as I attempt to share how it is I remember to mother myself.

That my Mother has not been able to unconditionally love, support and guide me in my life in the ways that are at the deepest core of my heart’s desire, is NOT her fault.  I am the one with my expectations of what should and should not come within the bounds of mothering in a relationship.  And honestly, if I had gotten the things that I have craved throughout my life from the woman who is my Mother, I would not have had the experiences I needed to become the woman I am today.

In many ways it was the woman who is my Mother who has been the source of gifting me some of the biggest challenging experiences I have used to gain the greatest access to my true self.  My husband fondly refers to the people who play these growth inducing roles in our lives as the “ogres bearing gifts”. 🙂  (Does this mean that I just called my Mother an ogre?  lol -meant with love and a light heart).



Like most other human beings on this planet, both of my parents arrived at their roles of mother and father in my life as “damaged” people.  They both had been hurt and knocked around by what they had found when they arrived here on earth and by the choices that they had made in response in their lives.  They were good hearted, but both wounded when I arrived on the scene as their first child.  However, I know to the core of my bones they did the best that they could as parents.  They did the best they could within the understanding and level of emotional intelligence they had available to them at that time as they waded through their own pain.  That they still both transferred much of this pain on to me and my siblings, and by doing so deeply hurt me in their own unique ways, at the end of the day is not a personal thing.  This is at its root just the dynamics of unconscious suffering attempting to breed more suffering here on this planet.

::adult children of normal parentsfor 20 years I have had a copy of this cartoon in my must laugh about file

The main difference for me that makes talking about my Father so much easier than my Mother when I write here, is the fact that my Father has found within himself the courage to look at his pain and be honest about the choices he has made because of it… and these include “mistakes” that do not fall within the range of your normal garden variety, as well.   He has made the effort to heal and establish healthy relationships with his adult children.  On the other hand, my Mother has somehow not yet found the ability or desire to do the same.  Looking at what is the honest truth about oneself will set one free, but she has yet to put this nugget of wisdom into action in the experience of her life.

So it is that it will be 13 years ago this summer, while on a road trip attempting to begin healing of the broken heart from my ending of my first marriage, that I drove the 1570 miles from my home to my Mother’s front door.  I made this journey with the express purpose of letting her know that I loved her and that I forgave her for the negative impact that some of the choices she had made in her life had had on me in my childhood.  I heard from a sister that she had once referred to the address of the house I spent ages 12-17 in as “the hell house”… and my Mother was right.  In many ways, growing up there was like living in a hell of sorts.  But being a child at the time, it was a hell her children had to endure because of the choices she and my father were making in their lives. It was a living hell because of their pain and the unhappiness created by their not dealing with it at that time in a honest way.  At the time, we as their children, were just along for their ride.

Now as an adult myself, I made this journey to her door because I wanted to let her know that the ball was now in her court.  That going into the future, she could choose to build whatever type of relationship she wanted to have with me.  I told her I realized that I no longer needed her as a mother in my life, but that I had finally come to the place that I wanted her there if she wanted to be.  I told her that I had finally realized that it was not ever going to be helpful to blame her, my father, or anyone else for the challenges I found in the experience of my own life flow.

When all is said and done, the truth is that the lie I told my co-worker about my Mother being dead, did not stem from any pain or distress I have related to the fact that I have not ever heard from my Mother since that visit.  Rather, it was a lie told due to the layers of complexity that are now a part of what actually is my real relationship with my Mother and the challenge of communicating about the ways I was and was not mothered by her.  These are layers that cannot be easily or neatly unpacked within the time frame provided at 39,000 ft after serving chips, somewhere between PDX and LAX. 🙂

At this stage of the adventure, it looks like I will not be adding the officially titled role of physically being a mother to the list of my life experiences either.  But, I also am at peace with this choice.  For many years early on in my life I was terrified at the thought of having my own children, because imagining that I could ever put a child through some of the things I endured, was just more than I could bear.  Over time, as I came to understand the dynamics of woundedness, emotional pain and how it is unconsciously passed on, slowly I realized I did not need to fear becoming a mother.

By shining the light of honest inquiry, with conscious exploration in my life, slowly I realized the ways I am actually like my Mother and the ways that I am not.  This is not about me claiming the right to any moral high ground here.  Ultimately, it is about honoring the fact that through witnessing in my Mother’s life and in her pain, that I have learned how to know who I truly am and to love being that woman.  So much of her pain, and the pain of even just what it means to be a human being on this planet, stops here.  Stops now.  It stops at my front door.  I do my best to understand the dynamics of it, and to not pass it on.   I am eternally grateful to my Mother for her role in helping me learn to do this.

So, as I sit and write on Mother’s Day, is there a double edged sword cutting through many layers within the time set aside for what is the celebrating of mothering in America?  You better believe so.

However, to the woman who is my Mother, if you ever find your way to reading the words of your daughter left here on seeingM, I am so grateful to you for your layers… the exquisitely beautiful ones and the ugly as well.  I know you do not desire to live your life with as much transparency as you may find here and that is ok.  I promise, I will still keep some of your secrets, but I realize I can never do so by lying about them.  You see, because I am your daughter, I have some of those very same beautiful and ugly ogre layers, too.  I am grateful for this.  I am grateful for the many gifts you have given me and I can honestly say I love you so, not in spite of the challenges we face, but because of them.  I think you would be proud of me if you knew me as the woman I have become today.  I mother in my life well… and in the ways that you were able, I know you did too.

On this day and all others, to all the people in my life who love and assist me on the mothering journey, Happy Mother’s Day to you!

This entry was published on May 12, 2013 at 5:43 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

11 thoughts on “Mothering Myself

  1. read all of it – and speechless – life is difficult for all the ogres on this earth, count me one of them.

    • Ah, yes the layers of life. Ogres who work on being honest about themselves keep good company, now don’t we?! I have been the source, gifting some important life lessons for a few others as well. No regrets, but I have used the experiences to learn how to navigate gifting growth without needing to pass on big pain body bombshells as well. -x.M

      • –Rather, I guess I can say at this stage of my life, I have the right regrets.

      • Growth and learning … ups and downs …
        I think we learn from the downs, the ups are proof of the learned lessons down there. So there must be fewer ups 🙂

  2. Anonymous on said:

    My heart is throwing roses at you on the stage of this role, dabbing away at the tears; thank you for the depth and transparency of this sharing. Like Bert – I am speechless – walking around this loaded day with new eyes! X!

    • Anon-

      Thank you for taking the time to read and respond here. Transparency becomes like a garment. We try it on and then see what pieces and parts of the story of living peek through when one shines the light of our current understandings and ability to love and share ourselves.

      The only time I ever experienced being homesick for the home I grew up in was one summer at age 13 when I spent a chunk of time at the home of my Mother’s parents. They also were good people with well intended hearts. But their lack of real, deep authentic communication was deafening. As their deeply feeling granddaughter, I stood out rather naked in front of them. This and a few other choice experiences at an early age helped me begin to understand that as families, we share the same emotional boat… and as I grew older I began to understand that this boat is the same for the whole human family as well. It is a boat that I have always rocked in my family by just being who I am, doing what I naturally do… rocking on with my bad little self, too :).

      So here is to rocking the boat while wearing the garment of empathy birthed from unconditional love as it takes the form of compassion in action. Compassion for ourselves, the families we were born to, the family members that we choose to share our lives with and the family of humanity on this planet. Rocking the boat with love, tipping just enough to sink us to the truth that will set us free. Little love song left publicly again for those who want to join in on the dancing this day.


      • I adore the way the universe brings the mirror of the words… even if it can be experienced as being corny :). Yes, lovely Pema, in the same boat indeed.

  3. Sounds quite familiar…..My mother is dead and I must admit life got easier when her physical presence left this planet when she was 50, even though we were rarely in contact after I left home the day after I graduated high school never to return. I am at peace with all of it, like you. And very grateful for the tough gifts. In some ways I am a bit of an alien because of it and I like that. When my biological father (who left when I was 1 and then reconnected with me at age 17) told me my mother never loved me, I was shocked for a moment at the brutal honesty of the casually spoken words, even though I was in my 40s and it was all ancient history. But once those words settled in and lost their sharpness, I knew that he hadn’t told me anything that I hadn’t known my whole life. And after a contemplative “huhh….” the moment passed in the breeze without any pain or judgement attached and all that remained was a profound feeling of lightness and freedom.

    • S-

      Boatloads of gratitude for your share. I have always agreed with Emerson that one of the greatest gifts we can ever give each other is an honest accounting of some of our life story, to share “a portion of thyself”. I am honored to be a recipient from you here on seeingM.

      As my parent’s are both still living and I have no desire to embarrass and alienate them by sharing details they are not ready to share for themselves, I strike it mild here on seeingM speaking of growth gained without much of the back story. I have learned (in some ways the hard way), that one cannot ever gracefully foist growth, emotional maturity and the freedom that comes with it upon others :).

      During that last visit to my Mother (capitalized in this post on purpose as an inside joke with my sisters… at a double wedding for 2 of them we have a picture with all 5 of us holding our fingers to our foreheads making the shape of a capitol M as a reMinder of lessons from our Mmother 🙂 ) she told me that her new husband had asked her if she loved me. She said that she loved the “idea” of daughter, but that she did not know who I was. This was her truth. The deeper realization this gifted me was that my Mother could not know me, because she did not know herself. She could only love me as much as she loved herself… the hurt she passed on is the hurt she felt herself. We can only do-share-be with others in ways we can with ourselves first. With those little nuggets of truth in understanding the dynamics of the emotional landscape, living from a place of empathy and compassion opens… and oh yes, the beautiful breeze of freedom that blows when one starts living sailing from that sea of wisdom.

      Again S, thank you for your realness. The alien emotional DNA that you share, in my book, comes from the elegance of living of ones life managing d.ifficult n.avigation a.uthentically. It leaves rare and stunningly beautiful markers on ones presence and does tend to give a heightened awareness of the illusion of separation when one finds many others around themselves who have yet to do the work needed to master their own ability to do the same.


  4. You write so vividly about your experience M, I am in awe.
    Somewhere in the future I hope to write a bit about my mother, and try to articulate the complexity. One thing she did that really helped me understand her was writing a book about her life. Hearing her tell her story, giving herself a voice through writing that was so different than the voice I heard in the day to day of the family experience, led me to feel a compassion for her that I could not have known had she not written her book.
    Now, she is not just my mother, but Delphine. So, yes in some ways she died to me as mother, and became herself.
    Anyway, crap, it’s 9:30 and I promised myself I’d be in bed before ten tonight!!!

  5. Pingback: To Truly Mother | seeingM

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