Mother’s Day can be a challenge for me. A Hallmark Card’s idyllic view of the mother/child relationship doesn’t match the conflicted feelings I learned to associate with my mother when I was a child. Each May, as I went through the motions associated with the tribute, I found it more difficult to pretend the sentiments of the flowery rhymes of the greeting cards applied. My approach was to submerge my feelings and become numb.
Thankfully, my personal work over the years slowly brought these feelings to the surface and for the most part, they have been resolved. But do the feelings ever go away completely? In my office, over and over again I hear about the difficulties existing between mother and child. The common theme relates to a childhood lacking the abundant nurturing that is needed, the result of which is a bedeviling sense of being unlovable no matter what one may do.
I’ve come to think of “mother” as a verb as well as a noun. That definition doesn’t restrict the opportunities for giving and receiving unconditional love to the birth mother. It acknowledges that the essence of “mothering” can be very much present in teachers, friends and mentors whose compassion and caring natures offered comfort to our inner child and inspired our love.
Mother’s Day pays homage to the most influential woman in our lives, but it should also be a tribute to all the women who cared for us and nurtured us along the way, and love us still. It should remind us as well of the significant roles we play – including women who are single by choice or chance – in the lives of the children of all ages for whom we are the verb and not the noun. In truth, we are all lovable, and capable of offering it in abundance.
Open your understanding of who has mothered you and whom you mother. Be grateful for those who offer unconditional love. And most importantly, give that child within you the heartfelt love it deserves.
www.momstilllearning.tumblr.com is the link to the posts written by Jenifer Ratner. With a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Development from the Erikson Institute and a decade of child care as a Nanny, she is starting her practice as a parenting consultant. The short reflections on the challenges of raising her daughter bring grins and welcomed support to moms of all ages and experience. (Full disclosure: Jen is my daughter)