On this day where we celebrate, and sometimes idealize, motherhood, I’d like to take some time to acknowledge those who have done some re-parenting of themselves so as to better find their way in the world.
This is not a knock on mothers, or parents. What it is is recognition that some of us have been brought up by people who had generations of people before them riddled with self-esteem problems. It is perpetuated like a favorite recipe, only instead of coming back to us in the form of a dish that brings us comfort it keeps rearing itself like a club that smacks us around at our most vulnerable times. What it takes to break that kind of cycle is vast self-awareness and then a strength and energy that so few possess.
I’d like to say that if you’ve taken this kind of emotional inventory, one that allows you to not pass it on, but also — and this is critical — not take it out on the people who raised you to the best of their ability, then you are one exceptional human being. Re-parenting involves getting the voice in your head that says “You’ll never graduate” from a shout to a whisper by not only graduating but excelling in your field. But it also involves pushing that negative voice away when, even in your 40s and 50s, you are trying to accomplish something you find daunting.
Parents who think they’re not good enough are invariably going to send the message to their children that they’re not good enough either. I’ve made a thoughtful choice in my life not to be a parent and I don’t believe it has anything to do with this premise, but perhaps I’m being naive. Perhaps re-parenting was enough parenting for me in one lifetime.
I suspect some are reading this as a criticism of my own parents. It’s not. My mother is an amazing person who thrives on her mothering role and I owe so much of who I am to her. My father is a good man and was the consummate provider. He worked so hard for us. But they’re both human and were brought up by people who cut them down. I like to think somewhere on the other side my grandparents and great grandparents are grateful for those of us who have tried to break some of the self-defeating, emotionally crippling cycles they perpetuated because they didn’t know any better.
On this Mother’s Day, I’d love it if we could put aside the flowery cards and the la-la-la’s for just a few minutes and acknowledge ourselves for being the ones who recognized that something needed to change and did something about it. Looking within with the intent of growth and understanding the people who gave us life is so healthy and ultimately rewarding.
Last Sunday I celebrated Mother’s Day with my mother and sister. We went to a local festival and then laughed and shared over a really good lunch. I feel blessed to have memories like this and will continue to create them as long as God decrees my parents will be with us. Recognizing our parents’ fragility and humanity is a gift and if they’re around long enough it allows us to not just make peace with ALL they’ve given us but to enjoy them in a real way.
I acknowledge myself for getting to this place where glazing over things doesn’t sit well, but real feels so right and loving. Even when it’s hard. Re-parenting may sit right up there with parenting as the most significant accomplishment of our lives.