When I became a mother for the first time four years ago, it not only transformed me, but my relationship with my mother as well. When we become a mother, our place in our female lineage shifts from being a child to the place of being a mother. And our mother shifts to the place of grandmother. This shift in our intricate family web can stir up a lot of things, heartwarming and painful. Memories of how we were mothered as a child often come to the surface. And as we bond with our children, it awakens feelings about our own relationship with our mothers. Who we are as a daughter also changes.
When we are young, we are dependent on our mother for everything. We need her in the most primal way. For food, warmth, love, shelter and as a role model for how to be in the world. This is generally the most intimate, closest relationship we have, and it will evolve and transform for as long as we live. Even after our mother leaves this earth. Being so intimately connected can come with friction. Tension and (karmic) pain will show up as we go through the movements of life together. For some women especially during the big moments in life, like becoming a mother. Keeping our relationship with our mother healthy can be a work in progress.
What changed for me by becoming a mother is that I now experience firsthand how much love, patience and care it takes to raise child. All the sleepless nights, feeding, changing diapers, endless soothing… I feel deeply grateful for my mother. Grateful for all that she has done for me and the sacrifices she has made to be the mother she is for me and my siblings.
When I took on the role of mother myself I was also confronted with my own messy humanness and imperfection as a mother. Like learning to drive a car when it is already on the move, motherhood can be a crazy ride. I just try my best. And she did the same. Both loving our kids in the best way we know how. Which looks different for everyone. Inviting compassion towards her by seeing my own imperfections, brings with it the ability to forgive her for the bumps in the road that she was not able to avoid while raising me. It takes a lot of awkward growing up to realize that our parents are simply humans just like us, compared to the almost super hero status they often have when we are young.
My way of mothering
Another challenge I have encountered is finding my own style of parenting. There are some things I really want to do different, and I feel quite confident about those changes. But I also experience the exact opposite, which I find much more confusing. I was blessed to have grown up feeling very loved and safe. My mother stayed at home and was always there for us, ready with a cup of tea when we came home from school. As this is my main reference, backed up by happy memories, I would love to give my kids a similar upbringing. But I am not the same woman that my mother is. As much as I try to give all my time and energy to my kids, it does not make me a happy mom. For me to function as a mother, I need time and space to venture out on my own, travel, study, work… I can feel insecure about doing things so different, as I do not know from experience what it feels like for a kid when your mom is not always there.
Reframing our relationship
Reframing our relationship with our mother as we grow in life can be as challenging as it is beautiful. And it is interesting to realize that feelings like tension, anger or insecurity in our relationship might have been accumulated by many generations of women. Our female lineage goes back to the beginning of times (and in to the future). We are connected through the life that passes through our wombs and our hearts.
It is said that when we heal ourselves, we can heal our whole lineage and provide the generation to come with a cleaner slate. But tuning into this most intimate relationship to bring about healing can be daunting, especially when there is a lot of pain. But how beautiful to think that when we gather the courage to turn towards that what needs our light, the fruits of our work can nourish our whole family mandala.
We are alive now, it is our turn, our chance to heal. And from what I have been taught and have experienced, healing happens mostly by kind awareness and compassion. There is no need to attack our collective karma with a bucket full of soap and a rough scrub. There is also no need for endless digging. We might never know what pain is ours and what was passed on to us. We might never know all the hidden stories from past generations that still echo in our being. Can we simply surrender to the messy and uncomfortable humanity of our female lineage and allow whatever pains we carry from past generations to be there? Can we accept them as an unavoidable part of being alive? Can we bravely hold space for whatever arises? I think this simple yet not easy act will create the opportunity for healing to unfold by itself, moment by moment, breath by breath.