So, while blaming mom for all of one’s problems is cliché, it does point out an important truth. Our mothers have a big hand in how we turn out as adults. Don’t get me wrong. Dad is important too. But this is the week when we should all pause and thank our mothers for everything they’ve done for each and every one of us.
What is the role of a good mother, you ask? Psychologists will tell us that a good mom is one that makes us feel safe, who lets us play and learn to relax, who encourages us to try to learn new skills as a child. She also encourages us to explore the world around us, yet she is close by to pick us up and comfort us when we fail or lose our way. In short, she is crucial in the development of our self-confidence, so that we will feel confident that we can succeed when we become adults.
A good mom also makes us feel loved. Why is this so important? Because it’s how we learn that we are loveable and how we learn to love and accept ourselves, just the way we are. As we grow older, mom continues to encourage us to explore, so we can find out which activities we like and which we don’t like to do. Most importantly, she encourages us to feel more comfortable with longer periods of time away from her and our homes, so we eventually feel confident enough to leave the shelter of home and to survive on our own.
I was lucky growing up, and like millions of others, I like to think that my mom was the best mom in the world. Together with dad, she provided all of the basic essentials that I’ve already mentioned. I was also lucky to grow up in a traditional home where my mom had the luxury of staying at home to be there for us with hearty lunches on school days, and where she was able to drive us to most of our after school activities. But I was also extremely fortunate to grow up in a home with no domestic abuse, so my sisters and I could grow up feeling safe. My mom was luckier that many other moms in that respect.
Sadly, I was unlucky enough to have my mother pass away at far too young an age, when I was only 31 and my youngest sister was only 19. Even though she hasn’t been with us for many years, Mother’s Day is still a day to pause and remember the many blessings she bestowed on us.
Tragically, in my job as a psychologist, I hear too many stories, day after day, of people who haven’t been as lucky, and who have grown up in homes where domestic abuse and violence was the norm. They come from homes where so many mothers face an uphill battle just to survive physically and emotionally each day, and where they struggle every day to give their children just the basics.
As a result of those childhoods, many of my clients often harbour resentment against their mothers for not giving them as much love as they desired, or for not keeping them as safe as they would have liked. So I spend a lot of time trying to help those clients understand how difficult it must have been for their mothers in those less than ideal circumstances. And in learning to understand and have empathy for their mothers, many of my clients are able to let go of their resentment. Most importantly, I help those people understand that their mothers were likely doing the best the could, just to survive under terrible conditions.
When I hear these tragic stories from clients, I can’t help but think back and remember how blessed I was to have my mom. Even in her tragically short life, she had a profound positive influence on the man I came to be.
So, I hope that this Mother’s Day, no matter how perfect or imperfect your mothers were, that we can all take time to give thanks to mom for doing the best she could for each of us. Regardless of the life circumstances in which each of our moms found herself, let’s all tell our mothers how much we love them.
Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere for doing their best for us!