Be a Good Mother to Yourself!

We all had a mother once. But some of us lost her early, and some of us have or had mothers who weren’t so good for us. It is a vitally important relationship, and it can go wrong in so many ways. The mother who is hyper-critical, the mother who is over indulgent, the mother who is indifferent, and countless other flavors of wrong. Sometimes drugs or alcohol get in the mix, sometimes mental illness, and sometimes there’s just a bad fit between mother and child.

From the very beginning of life, we look to Mother to reflect back to us essential information about our identities, our worth, and our place in the world. When that relationship is missing or problematic, where do we get that information, and how are we to think and feel on Mothers’ day, a holiday that idealizes and over-simplifies.

Even people who have worked hard to address what went wrong in their relationship with their mothers, and have reached more understanding, still have to contend with the effects of the initial relationship. Hard as we work, it is our earliest experiences with our mothers that seem to have the longest staying power. We appear to absorb defining messages about who we are and who we can be, and those messages take root and live on regardless of external change.

The good news about this is that the critical work is internal, so if your actual mother is unavailable or unwilling, it can still be done. The bad news is that it is internal — no one can do it for you, and it’s hard.

What does a good mother do? She loves her child, encourages, challenges, and comforts. She is present through thick and thin without blaming or shaming. She celebrates the wins and absorbs the losses, is tolerant and patient, and has a sense of humor. And this, my friend, is how to mother yourself. If you berate and belittle yourself, if you beat up on yourself, if you judge, criticize and ridicule yourself, you are being the worst mother ever. Regardless of your gender, it is your responsibility to be a Good Mother to yourself for the rest of your life. Once you have proven yourself trustworthy and kind, the results you will get may astound you.