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Is Your Relationship with Your Mother Complicated?

Mother’s Day is approaching and it means appreciating your mother - but what if your feelings about your own mother are complicated? What if you didn’t feel like your mother loved you enough, took care of you, gave you every advantage for being a successful human being? You are still expected to celebrate the great job she did mothering you, and be grateful for what she gave, right? Yet you are unable to be unconditionally thankful and so you feel guilty.

Unless you truly hate your mother, there are probably some things she did that made you happy. It helps to remember your mother is/was a person and not just a parent, and we all have our issues to deal with. As a child this is not readily apparent, and some adults never fully grasp this concept either. It requires getting outside your own comfortable and familiar perspective and having some empathy for another person. When this is the person taking care of you, your expectation is that they have their stuff together, but in reality, that may not be the case. My own mother was very self-absorbed, and I learned early on not to count on her for all the support I needed. I found substitute support figures, which saved me from disappointment and resentment.

You don’t have to forgive her for everything, simply that if you were in her shoes you’d want some leeway too. My mom had an overbearing mother and moved from her parents’ house into her married home, never really growing up or knowing herself. Her goal was to be a better mother to me than her mother was to her, and she accomplished this in many ways. However, she still couldn’t get past her own needs to help me with mine.

As a mother myself, naturally I want to be acknowledged on Mother’s Day. For some moms, it’s a huge deal, for others it feels artificial to be feted on this day. Regardless, every mom hopes her children appreciate her. All I need is a phone call (although an Amazon gift card is always welcome!). There was one year when I neglected to call my mother on Mother’s Day, and you know karma’s a bitch, right? One year it appeared my kids weren’t going to call me, and I freaked out. They did come through later in the day, but suddenly I had profound sympathy for my mother. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

And let’s not forget that some people really do feel grateful for the mothers they have! Some mothers impart gifts and enable their children to grow into the best versions of themselves. They are great role models for all of us!

"The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children."

- Elaine Heffner

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