Mothers Set The Stage

“The successful mother sets her children free and becomes freer herself in the process.” – Robert J. Havighurst

True, true, true. But how to get there….that’s the issue and big question.

Mother’s Day is coming up and we all know what that means.

It is giving or sending a card, flowers, candy, a gift or a visit.

There are brunches, lunches, and dinners galore all over the place. It’s a big deal.

For those that are not ‘blessed’ with being a mother you may be ‘like’ a mother to someone and feel that glow and warmth.

It’s a big money- maker day, to be sure ,and it is only one day, but it sends a message.

Now if your relationship is honky-dory, great. You celebrate a lot of mother’s days all year. If it ain’t so hot this may be a bittersweet day, and if, in fact you have a bad or non-existent relationship with your mother it is painful.

If you were adopted, or lost your mother early there are other feelings you get caught up in. There is no perfect to be sure but whatever you received in mothering sets the stage for the rest of your life.

If the relationship is a good one and you like or admire your mother you will gladly follow in her footsteps with a bit of personal variation and generational changes. If you did not like the example you were given you may ‘fight’ all your life to be different. Now that’s for females.

For males you have a different road to travel when it comes to ‘mother.’

In most cases you had to fight the mostly unconscious feelings that you lived with from birth about wanting to be close and loving her OR hating her and wanting to get as far away as possible emotionally from her.

But guess what? You will more than likely marry or be connected intimately with a female just like her . True. Scary, right?

The pattern gets in when you are not even aware and by the time you realize what you are dealing with it’s too late to change. She is your idea of female. She represents what women are about.

You can change some of it to be sure, but the real nitty gritty is in you.

As a marriage counselor for over three decades I can tell you that looking at couples and taking the histories I know it before they tell me.

The guy who has to lie to his spouse all the time had a domineering, controlling, demanding mother. Her anger frightened him so he avoided, almost at all costs, displeasing her. Turn that into, ‘wife’ and you have the same pattern repeating itself.

Then the really big issue; he has to choose another woman to be close to that is NOT his mother. His ‘mommy’ may really not like that idea. She may even try to sabotage the relationship….forever!

Letting a child mature, grow up, have their own ideas, and ways of behaving, making choices contrary to your own is a mother’s most difficult task.

The process normally begins in adolescence but it may not and it may never be done, or finished well. It means that ‘mother’ has to retreat from being ‘mother’ and that is very, very difficult; especially for controlling women who have ALL the answers.

Look around on this Mother’s Day and see how children, of all ages, relate to their mothers.

Look at you and know what you really feel for your own mother.

What do you share and tell? What do you still want from her?

If she is no longer with you what do you remember and miss?

Do you have any guilt about anything relating to her? Where does it come from?

I have not mentioned sharing a mother with her spouse, or other siblings, or step- families, but that can also be troublesome in your mind and feeling.

There are also mothers who are ‘competitive’ with their children as they themselves age. Not a pretty sight.

No relationship is easy and this one colors a lot of who you are, who you will become, and how you will relate to others. The best advice is to become aware early on and try to change what doesn’t work for you. It is not an easy task but many have been successful in the long run and it is certainly worth the struggle.

So, on Mother’s Day mothers wish to be acknowledged for what they brought into the world and appreciated for all they gave. They can be honest, hopefully, about the other side as well but with it all; make it a joyful day!!

“My mother was dead for five years before I knew that I had loved her very much.” – Lillian Hellman

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