As Mother's Day looms ever closer in the UK, I find myself bombarded by messages, suggesting ways in which I can thank my mother for all that she has done and continues to do for me.
For many people, including the clients I work with, these sentiments do not always resonate with their experience of having been mothered. For those of us whose experience does not match that of the kind, warm, nurturing mother we have all come to expect and hope for, Mother's Day can be a struggle; a stinging reminder of a turbulent relationship, of criticism or rejection, or of a longing for closeness and also a fear of it.
Perhaps we know all too well the hurt, the abandonment and the loss, as well as the guilt, shame and self-doubt that inevitably tags along in abundance. However, we may also know the hope; the hope that we will be protected, cared for, loved and nurtured, in a way we sometimes imagine only a mother can.
As relational human beings, our need for contact remains, and our hunger for parental care and love persists and often manifests in our intimate relationships with others. When our friends, lovers, spouses or children do not meet these original needs, we may find ourselves disproportionately distressed; unbeknownst to us, we may be reliving the original trauma of hurt, neglect and abandonment. And it is a myth that all mothers are by nature, warm, kind and nurturing. At best they are, but at worse, the relationship can be destructive and toxic.
Such relationships can leave us feeling full of self-doubt, insecure, anxious or depressed. Often, the song that serenades us on our journey sings the blues, lamenting that we are indeed, unlovable. It's a battle that can make navigating our way through adult life, complicated, confusing and painful. My alternative Mother's Day gift suggestion for those who choose not to do cards and flowers or for those who reluctantly do so, is to begin to kindle the flame of your internal mother.
In order to do this, you need to learn how to be on your own side; to be decent and good to yourself; to regard all of yourself with respect and care; to become aware of your own needs and allowing your internal mother to provide satisfying environmental nourishment. And, like all good mothering, this takes practice, discipline, patience and love.
So why not start today? Take the time to cook yourself a deliciously healthy and nutritious meal; or book yourself a treatment that will attend to meeting the needs of your mind, body and spirit; you might want to have a soothing candle lit bath with essential oils to calm, nurture and relax.
Alternatively, if you fancy getting creative, create a set of illustrated affirmations that list your strengths and all the things you like about yourself, reminding yourself daily. Acts of kindness to the self can be a powerful first step in beginning to heal what is often referred to as “the mother wound", and a crucial move towards reclaiming our right to not only love ourselves but in allowing ourselves to receive the love of others.
So, for all those that struggle with Mother's Day, it is possible to reframe the event so that is begins to hold more meaning for you and honours your own unique experience. The essence of Mother's Day is not about hearts and flowers but about giving and receiving love. If your biological mother doesn't quite fit the bill, why not start with yourself?