Food for Thought

Mother’s Day has an unparalleled significance for most women. It has significance for every one of us, whether we ourselves are mothers or not. All of us have or had, mothers at one time. Whether loyal or abandoning, nurturing, or abusive, still living or dead, we all had mothers. As we each reflect on our relationship with our mother, most of us will recognize how complicated, challenging, joyful, and difficult mothering can be.

Mothers have an impossible task: to raise or co-parent a child without an owner’s manual, blueprint, or a roadmap. We try to capitalize on the best of what we received from our parents and avoid the worst of the mistakes that we feel injured us. Most of us try to live up to the ideal of being the “perfect” mother: a self-expectation that leads us into self-disappointment or disappointment in our children. A mother’s challenge is to love, protect and nurture a baby or child that is a separate and unique being and who may, as they grow up, be like or very unlike the person we are.

Then there are all of us that are not considered mothers but are mothers in a different way. We may have nieces, nephews, pets, clients—even strangers that we take under our wing, often in a very committed way. We are mothering when we look out for the well-being of any person or animal that is smaller, less capable, more vulnerable, or unable to fully care for themselves. Mothering is a way of being present to another living being with love and with the intention of fostering his or her safety and growth. We are all mothers in one way or another, to be celebrated and appreciated, preferably more than once a year!

Questions to Consider:
1) Do you consider yourself a mother in either a traditional or non-traditional sense?
2) What did you learn from the way your own mother parented you? What elements did you strive to recreate and what ways of parenting did you do your best to avoid?
3) Mothers and mothering are complicated. Share your own experience of complicated mothering.
4) What have your favorite experiences been in mothering children and/or animals?
5) If you had the opportunity to mother again knowing what you now know, how would you mother differently?

All rights reserved © 2020 Beth Firestein, Ph.D. Wise Women Group