Being Wise… taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 38
1. Honest Expectations. I know who my mother is as a person and what I can expect from her and what I can’t. It doesnt mean that I like it, but I do accept it. I’ve had to accept that she will never be the person to have deep conversations with me about all I love to talk about. And as so long as I don’t try to have those kind of talks with her, things work out. It was when I kept getting angry that she just ‘couldn’t go there’ that it was much tougher on me.
2. Honest Feelings. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that I haven’t been sad about the fact that my mother and I have a distant relationship, because that would have been my old behavior. The truth is that I have been sad, and the thing that made our relationship better, was me actually having those feelings. Whether I said them out loud to myself, told a friend, or even wrote her a letter, which I didnt have to send, it felt good to release my feelings, and to do it for me.
3. Let her love me the way she can. I have never questioned whether or not my mother loves me. Of course she does. She just can’t show it or express it in the way I really needed it, and so I spent a lot of energy protecting myself from her, not letting her in, not letting her give in the ways that she could. After my grandmother died — a woman who I did feel super connected to and very loved by — I decided that I would just let my mother love me the way that she could. I’m still in process with this one, but I will tell you that it has opened up a place in my heart that had been long in need of healing.
And in the end, no matter what our relationships are with our mothers, I do think they are about healing.
Christine Arylo is an inspirational catalyst for women and founder of Madly in Love with ME http://www.madlyinlovewithme.com
Olive, age 14, says:
Three things that I have done to create a better relationship with my mother? Spent more time with her, shared anything with her, and loved her.
My mom and I have always had a good relationship but when she got remarried I wasn’t used to having to share her attention. Most kids with divorced parents have difficulties “sharing” their parents but I find that just spending some time together really helps.
Communication is also always key. Although it does not always go smoothly, it always feels better to tell my mom how I feel as opposed to bottling it up. For a long time I would bottle things up but then when I started going to therapy and realizing that my mom was always there I no longer had issues. The problem with bottling up your feelings is that you may bottle them up, but that does not mean that they go away. So then one day everything will come rolling out and it truly feels awful.
Being affectionate with my mom is something that I have always felt good about. I love it when I sit next to my mom while watching a movie and I can snuggle with her. I also love goodnight kisses and hugs.
Love comes in many different shapes and sizes but love is the key to life.
Janet, age 24, says:
Building a strong relationship with my mom has always been a big part of my life. She is my best friend and confidant. We have always been close, but as I am getting older in my 20s we have an even stronger bond. Our conversations are about anything and everything. We talk about our problems with significant others, issues we are having at work, and relationships with other women in our lives. I find my mom is very real and honest with me all of the time. She is the person I can trust who will give me the most real advice. She provides advice I don’t always like to hear, but know she is right in the long run.
To maintain a strong relationship with my mom, I find I am sharing more details about my personal relationships with her. I tell her about the great times I have with my boyfriend and she laughs with me. But I know I can also tell her about the hard times I have with him. She listens and points out when I am wrong. At first, I tend to get angry with her for not ‘listening’ to my point of view on the situation, but then I take time to reflect and realize she tells me these things because she loves me and knows me best. It takes a lot of trust to have these conversations with her, but I know she always has my best interest in mind.
I have also been making a greater effort to make plans with my mom. I make plans to see her at least once every two weeks. I find when we are together in person, our conversations are deeper and more real. One of my favorite things to do with my mom is go for a long walk. We walk the trails near her house or down on the lake. During our walks, we talk about life. I find we connect on a different level when we are together. Some of my favorite memories with her are the trips we have taken together. We have laughed, cried, and get up set with one another, but at the end of the day, we always know we are there for each other. I feel blessed my mom and I are so close. It is a part of my life I love and sharing my life with her has been a great gift!.
Jenn, age 36, says:
About four years ago my 92-year old grandfather had a heart attack and my mother moved in with him to take care of him (until he passed away a two months later). I flew from San Diego to Pennsylvania to spend 11 days with them. I helped prepare meals, assisted and entertained my grandfather, and housecleaned at night while he slept. I was pleased to be able to have the time with him. What I didn’t realize was that this experience would be the first time I would switch roles from child to adult, and nurturee to nurturer, in my family.
Since I was there, my mother was able to get away for a couple days with my father and have a desperately needed respite from the stressful situation. I was terrified by the responsibility but knew it was the right thing to do. I would creep into my grandfather’s bedroom at night to make sure he was still breathing.
My grandfather loved the time with me. My mother was incredibly grateful and I could feel that her perspective on me had shifted. We hugged and cried and hugged some more when she dropped me off at the airport. I felt a new sort of pride in myself in my ability to handle uncomfortable and scary responsibilities.
Since that time, I’ve paid attention to being more present with my mother when we talk on the phone, instead of multitasking. I’m also much more likely to share my personal growth experiences, even when they are difficult issues or topics around which I may feel particularly uncomfortable with my family (e.g., finances or my organizational struggles). It keeps us closer over the long distance, and allows her a role as a large and vital part of my life. The experience with my grandfather was empowering for me in my role in my family, and I cherish how my mother and I can continue to both nurture each other.
Dr. Jenn is the founder of Dr. Jenns Den at http://www.drjennsden.com/
Shelley, age 50-something, says:
The biggest thing I can say I have done with regards to changing myself so I could create a better relationship with my mother was to grow up. It’s so very easy to fall back into habits from our youth when we are around our relatives, isn’t it? I’m sure I’m not the only person who has attended a family gathering and suddenly reverted back to the age of 12 or younger! Why is that? Family, whatever that looks like for us, is the place where we were probably our most vulnerable, especially if we stayed in the family unit until becoming a young adult. They, the family, know everything about you! At least that’s how you might feel at first glance.
Once I was married and on my own, I realized that I was a grown up and started to react to talks with my mother from the place of being an equal. Although, obviously my mother will always be the elder in the relationship, I noticed as I gained more life experience, I was able to shift the way in which I communicated with her. Instead of child to mother, it became woman to woman. This didn’t happen over night! I also learned over time to stand in my own power and not let her push my buttons, as it were. Bringing up old family history or trying to manipulate the conversation so that I felt like a 3 year old certainly challenged my belief at times in my self worth.
I think it’s natural to reach out to your mother for comfort and support. I found that by reaching out to other people in my life for those things, I didn’t have to rely solely on my mother for that. I guess the answer is that I learned to love myself and not to depend on my mother or anyone outside of me for my happiness. Each time I speak to her from the place of my own knowing of who I am in the present moment (and not in the past of my childhood), our conversations are deeper and more profound and I walk away with my power intact.
Shelley Anderson is a celebrity personal assistant, and the author of the book and blog http://www.dealingwithdivas.com