When I was a small child I held a connection with my mother like nobody else. For the first 5 days of my life it was just her and I in a hospital room, all the staff and nurses simply left us to be with each other knowing I was the 4th child born in the family and that mum knew exactly how to be with her new born.
I knew what love was, it was the warmth my mother wrapped me in with her eyes, as well as the swaddled and delicate way she held me. She cared for me unreservedly, and from the very beginning I knew I was supported to simply be myself.
Then I began to mother my own mother…
As I was growing up and to this day, the connection between us has never swayed, however it became cloudy with emotional needs and our relationship, that was founded on the love of who we are, became more about helping each other out. I could feel she felt responsible for me, my actions and my emotions, and I the same for her.
The draining and exhausting kind of mothering…
This underlying neediness we had together was rather sneaky, because it would let me think I was supporting her when I was actually taking on everything she was feeling. In fact, not truly supporting her at all but rather listening and then choosing to indulge in sympathy with her or trying to find solutions for her situations.
Quite simply, I would walk away from our interactions wondering what I could do to support her more, help her out with her own choices or make things better. It was never that she complained or outwardly imposed her situations onto me; I could just tell if she was feeling drained by her day or sad about something, and I felt I needed to do something to help.
Now most people would think there’s nothing wrong in that but I began to question: how equipped was I to truly help, if the sympathy I felt meant I too would feel drained as I took on the same emotions or worries as her? I always knew when something was up, when she was not feeling like the beautiful and naturally joyous woman I know her to be and I can see I had pulled (and relied upon) the emotional needs of my mum, thinking I was being supportive in our relationship. Yet if I wasn’t living in a way that was truly supporting me, how could I have truly been supporting her?
True mothering comes from within me first
Every honest and self-loving choice that I make in my own life supports every relationship that I have – including my relationship with her. I’m not hard on myself for not bringing solutions or sympathy anymore because what I can bring is a grand and never-ending amount of love; much like the love she wrapped me in from birth.
As I have grown to know myself more over these past few years, the relationship between my mother and I has become more truly loving, without perfection (as I am always learning) and I now don’t want to make things better for her, instead I am choosing to truly support her in life – by simply being all of me.
This has brought a huge opportunity to redevelop our relationship with a greater awareness of how we speak, treat and simply be with each other. Allowing our connection to deepen without the heaviness of emotional needs and sympathy and with the lightness that comes when we just enjoy who we are.
Could true mothering start with love and appreciation of ourselves?
by Cherise Holt, 30, Nurse, Australia
You may also like: