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

Linda

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

Reply
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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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.

Reply
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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Adolescence is all about the transition from childhood to adulthood. It can be a confusing time for everyone - not just for our teens but also for the adults who love them. 

Too often, the line between childhood and adulthood can be a blurry one. The expectations of adulthood can come charging at them, but without the freedoms, confidence, or capabilities that adulthood brings. They can feel with such depth and intensity, but without the adult wisdom or experience to make sense of those feelings. 

They’ll be okay, but it might feel wobbly for a while. In the meantime they will look to us for signs of safety and certainty. This doesn’t mean certainty that everything will always be okay - it won’t be - but certainty that they’ll get through, certainty that they are extraordinary, and needed, and that their will be a space and a place in the world that only they can fill.

We might not always feel that certainty. Some days we might ache, and wish we could make their world feel softer for a while. In those times, it will be less about what you do and more about who you are - being the one who can be with them without needing them to be different, the one who can handle any of their hurts or heartaches with gentle, certain hands, the one who can block out the world for a while by letting them rest in our care without needing them to be, or do, or give anything back in return.♥️
For our children, we start building the foundations for adolescence in their earliest years - the relationship we’ll have with them, who they are going to be, how they are going to be. One of the things we’ll want to build is their capacity to know their own minds and be brave enough to use it. This isn’t easy, even for adults, so the more practice we give them, the more they’ll be able to access their strong, brave, beautiful minds when they need to - when we aren’t there.

This means letting them have a say when we can, asking their opinions, and letting them disagree.

When kids and teens argue, they’re communicating. We need to listen, but the need won’t always be obvious. When littles argue because it’s spaghetti for dinner and ‘I hate spaghetti so much’ (even though last week and the 5 years before last week, spaghetti was their favourite), they might be expressing a need for sleep, power and influence, or independence. All are valid. When your teen argues because they want to do something you’ve said no to, the need might be to preserve their felt sense of inclusion with their tribe, or independence from you. Again, all valid. 

Of course, a valid need doesn’t mean it will always be met. Sometimes our needs might need to take priority to theirs, such as our need to keep them safe, or for them to learn that they can still be okay if everything doesn’t go their way, or that sometimes people will have conflicting needs that need to take priority. What’s important is letting them know we hear them and we get it.

It’s going to take time for kids to learn how to argue and express themselves respectfully. In the meantime, the words might be clumsy, loud, angry. This is when we need to hold on to ourselves, meet them where they are, let them know we hear them, and step into our leadership presence. We might give them what they need because it makes sense and because there isn’t enough reason not to. Sometimes, after giving them space to be heard we’ll need to stand our ground. Other times we might solve the problem collaboratively: This is what you want. This is what I want. Let’s talk about how we can we both get what we need.♥️
Anxiety will always tilt our focus to the risks, often at the expense of the very real rewards. It does this to keep us safe. We’re more likely to run into trouble if we miss the potential risks than if we miss the potential gains. 

This means that anxiety will swell just as much in reaction to a real life-threat, as it will to the things that might cause heartache (feels awful, but not life-threatening), but which will more likely come with great rewards. Wholehearted living means actively shifting our awareness to what we have to gain by taking a safe risk. 

Sometimes staying safe will be the exactly right thing to do, but sometimes we need to fight for that important or meaningful thing by hushing the noise of anxiety and moving bravely forward. 

When children or teens are on the edge of brave, but anxiety is pushing them back, ask, ‘But what would it be like if you could?’ ♥️

#parenting #parent #mindfulparenting #childanxiety #positiveparenting #heywarrior #heyawesome
Except I don’t do hungry me or tired me or intolerant me, as, you know … intolerably. Most of the time. Sometimes.
Growth doesn’t always announce itself in ways that feel safe or invited. Often, it can leave us exhausted and confused and with dirt in our pores from the fury of the battle. It is this way for all of us, our children too. 

The truth of it all is that we are all born with a profound and immense capacity to rise through challenges, changes and heartache. There is something else we are born with too, and it is the capacity to add softness, strength, and safety for each other when the movement towards growth feels too big. Not always by finding the answer, but by being it - just by being - safe, warm, vulnerable, real. As it turns out, sometimes, this is the richest source of growth for all of us.

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