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Thoughts about a healthier mother to daughter relationship

By Lauren Olson, October 15 2019 —

I heard a quote once which, when paraphrased, says that there is really only one relationship — the one you have with yourself. Of course it seems we’re in hundreds of separate and individual relationships — you have a different relationship with your best friend than you do with you little brother, than you do with your boyfriend, than you do with your mom, than you do with your dad, than you do with an acquaintance in class and so on. But, when you think about it, breaking down all those seemingly separate relationships, you are the common denominator. Your perception, the lens through which you see other people, is the same across the board. So, even though the form of your actions is obviously different with different people, your experience in those relationships is entirely up to you. 

With all that in mind — and I know it’s a lot — think about how you see your mother. Since I’m pretty certain that none of us here are saints, I’m willing to bet that even if you think you absolutely adore her, you are still harbouring certain beliefs about her. Maybe you feel like your mom is super-cool and free-spirited but you also then feel responsible for her and you keep a separate bank account for her because she’s not putting anything away for retirement. Maybe you feel like your mom was too hard on you as a child and your adult mind is telling you that was a good thing, because today you’re a grown-ass-independent-woman, yet secretly you cling to a time when you really just needed your mom to give you a hug. Maybe you have more obvious reasons for feeling resentful towards your mom — maybe she drank too much or had a revolving door of boyfriends and you blame her for your commitment issues and fear of getting close to anyone. There are endless scenarios and, ladies, we all have secret — or not so secret — resentments towards our mothers.

So, how do we get past these resentments and beliefs and learn to truly love the women who birthed us? It’s very simple, though not easy, so brace yourselves. The way I see it there are two parts. The first thing you have to do is you have to forgive her. 

Forgive. Her. 

Forgive her for changing jobs a million times and making you move houses, schools and towns. Forgive her for working nights and sacrificing time with you in order to keep a roof over your head. Forgive her for sucking at communicating or for embarrassing you, and forgive her for being controlling and trying to protect you. Forgive her for being so wrapped up in her own struggles that she wasn’t capable of giving you the attention you needed. Forgive her for whatever you think she did that made you how you are now. Forgive her. 

The thing is, your mom is just a person. She was always operating on her own set of beliefs about herself and the world and she was always doing her best with what she had. Maybe the way she handled things wasn’t always the best, but ask yourself if you’ve ever done something you wish you hadn’t? Or realized that there was something you could have handled better? Your mom was learning as she went with you and the bottom line is she loved you.

The second thing you have to do is let go of all expectations. We all expect things from our mothers, whether we are aware of it or not. For example, we expect her to remember our birthdays. Sounds obvious, but I bet if your mom forgot your birthday you’d be hella-offended because she’s your mom and she should remember. Well guess what, your mom doesn’t owe you anything. I forget peoples’ birthdays all the time. It doesn’t mean I love them any less, it just means I forget birthdays. I challenge you to think about all the things you expect a “mother” should be and do, and then think about how many struggles and distractions you have on a day-to-day basis. Then, give your mom the same grace you afford yourself. Just because she’s a mother doesn’t mean she stops being a human.  

I know there are many different things that have happened in everyone’s relationships and lives with their moms. And I’m very aware of how difficult forgiving certain instances in our lives can be. We’ve built our identities on these defining moments we had as children and here I am, telling you to let go of those things. But the payout of letting go of those resentments you have towards your mom will inevitably translate into all your relationships. It will transform how you see the world, how you form new relationships and you’ll get to feel unconditional love towards your mother. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.

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