To the Moms Who Didn’t Have a Mom …

To the Moms Who Didn't Have a Mom ...

I’d love to reach out to all the moms out there who maybe didn’t have a mom. Or at least not the kind you’d ever call Mom. You didn’t have a Mom who would put a band-aid on your knee when you fell skating, or maybe you never even got to skate with her. You didn’t have the kind of Mom you could go to when you broke your ceramic candlestick in second grade, or when your friend didn’t invite you to her sleepover party, or when you got your period. She wasn’t there for you – at least not in the way you needed – when you got married, and she certainly wasn’t there for you when the baby came helping teach you how to nurse, doing the extra laundry and getting some groceries.

And yet, here you are, grown up, with a family all your own. Now YOU are Mom. And maybe sometimes it feels confusing. How do you lead someone down a path on which no one ever lead you? It can feel like you are carrying the weight of not just the childhood you want to give your child, but also the weight of the childhood you never had but always longed for. And now that magical childhood is here but it’s someone else’s – your child’s. And weirdly you find yourself jealous sometimes. How come they get this amazing care you never did? And sometimes you find yourself at a loss. Wanting to give them just the right kind of leadership and love but quite literally not knowing what to do. It’s not in your bones. No one ever put it there.

What you need to know is this … You were worthy of love always. You were worth band-aids and Kleenex and messy kitchens full of birthday dinners and all of it. And if you didn’t get it, it’s not because of you. It’s because maybe your Mom never got it and didn’t know how to pass it on. Maybe she was ill and couldn’t. Maybe she was working to make ends meet and didn’t have the support she needed to give you what you needed. Chances are she probably needed a lot more help and support too.

See, we aren’t meant to walk this journey alone. And when we try to, everyone suffers. And yet, we have this idea that we will somehow just know how to parent. That loving our children automatically comes with the ability to parent them. But as with most things in life, parenting is something we learn. Either we learn it as a child, receiving the love and care in such a way that we are able to pass it on because in our bones we know it. Or we know it in our hearts but not in our bones, and then we have to learn how to transmit it. Or, some of us are busy unlearning what we learned so we can re-learn something new entirely.

Learning is no shame. It is an honor, a bravery. An act of courage that says I know what I got, but I am more than that. I have a dream in my heart that is bigger than my reality. And I am going to be brave enough to learn how to make it happen. I am going to rewrite that which was written down before me and handed to me. I will make it my story, and then it will be my children’s. And they will make it theirs.

So if this is you, please know that you aren’t alone. And that if it is not all coming naturally, be kind to yourself. It is simply an invitation to go inside, get clear on what you do want your life to look like. What kind of mom do you want to be, regardless of what you were handed? Because it is possible to rewrite the future. And in so doing, you also get to heal the past.


About the author: Abigail Wald

Abigail is the mom of two terrific guys, 8 and 10. She assumed she would know how to parent them just because she loved them, and was surprised to learn that love is not enough, and that parenting lovingly and effectively actually requires a set of skills you can learn! After many years of research, these days she is a certified Hand in Hand Parenting Consultant. She is deeply passionate about sharing these amazing and counterintuitive tools with parents and loves that they are as supportive to the parents as they are to the kids! She can be reached at RealTimeParenting.com. She is kind, funny, and honest, and will give you a free 15 minutes any day to listen to your story and help in whatever way she can. 

7 Comments

Judy

This hit me so hard! I would have loved to hear these words when I was raising my children. As a mother who didn’t have a mother emotionally – sometimes I was at a loss when raising my own children. I did know however that I couldn’t go very wrong if I did everything with a loving heart. I now have two adult children who are raising their children and I couldn’t be more proud of the job I did and they job they are doing! Thank- you for your wise words – may they help another motherless mother raising children today!

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Melissa

Thank you so much for your response you took the words right of my head. I am raising 4,8,10,12. I find it reassuring that although I am clueless most often my heart is full of love and that is enough

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Lisa

Thank you for your article. I suffered not only from unloving parents.. Because I never knew what real love is.. I married a man who just like my parents for 29 years.
Now I am still trying to amend my relationship with my young adult kids. It is never to late to learn how to show love from your heart and I still believe that I will be loved and experience the true love relationship in the future.

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Sim

So very beautiful written. I got goosebumps when I ready I was worthy of love always.

You nailed it – How very odd that sometimes I feel jealous of the great childhood that I’m creating for my wonderful children.

How painful it is sometimes to remember I never went skating, shopping for clothes or to the movies with my mum but I also tell a better story now. The lack in my childhood has meaning now.

It made me desire to give my children the best I could and while she never put a bandaid on my knee, that also made me much stronger and self reliant.

I try and balance the two extremes with my own children. I show them unconditional love, support and fun but also the ability to find their own strength from backing away when it’s just a bandaid they need. Sometimes I swing from one extreme to the other but that’s OK. I dont be perfect.

You see I’m not only self soothing here but reminding anyone reading this that being there for our children and bonding with them can be enough.

I use articles like these to see where I’m at. So far I’m feeling great about my role as mum. I hope I end up like the mum above ^^^ who’s wonderful mothering created a new cycle of happiness and hopefully will give my daughters some kind of understanding what they can achieve as a mother in the future. They have the blue print now and I’m sure they will get better and better as the generations are created.

The new cycle started with us ladies (and gents). Be very proud.

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Linda

Thank you, I grew up in foster care and none of the “mother’s” were motherly.

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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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