Learning to mother ourselves

Image by Anuja Tilj from Pixabay

In the US, we are celebrating Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. While celebrations of the day will, of course, be different this year for many due to the limitations that are in place for the pandemic, it’s still a time when we are surrounded by a focus on motherhood.

For some of us, this is a joyful thing as we celebrate close bonds with our own mothers or feel celebrated ourselves by the close relationships we have with our children.

For others of us, this can be a painful season. Perhaps you’re mourning the loss of your mother, never had a mother present in your life, or have a difficult relationship with your mother. Or perhaps this season accentuates grief for the children you longed for but never had, for children you have lost, or for strained relationships with the children you are mother to.

In all the talk of motherhood this time of year, I seldom hear mention of one of the most important mothering relationships we all have—and have full control over—and that’s our mothering relationship with ourselves and our inner child.

It doesn’t matter whether we are male or female, whether we had close or difficult or nonexistent relationships with our own mother, or whether we are are or have ever been mothers to children. Learning to mother ourselves is still a critical skill that we all would benefit from developing.

What does it mean to mother ourselves?

It means learning to love ourselves unconditionally (even when we may be disappointed with our choices at the moment). It means learning to soothe our wounds, frustrations, and hurts with tenderness. It means taking care of our needs (physical and emotional), encouraging ourselves to do our best, believing in ourselves, and supporting ourselves.

For some of us, we may be able to easily model skills we learned from our own mothers (or mother figures) to begin treating ourselves the way they treated us. For others of us, it may mean learning to give ourselves the kind of love, support, and encouragement we longed for but never received.

Either way, an important part of maturing is developing these skills internally to treat ourselves as an ideal mother would to nurture our own growth, healing, and well-being.

This doesn’t mean we might not need to ask for help in meeting needs or that we can’t ask for and accept nurturing from others (including mothers) in our lives. What it does mean is reaching a point where we take responsibility for our own growth, healing, and well-being so that we are able to seek out what we need without waiting for others to do that for us.

That’s a basic part of kintsugi living. We can’t control the things that cause brokenness in our lives, but we do have control over how we respond to those things, and a big part of that is becoming comfortable with mothering ourselves through the healing process.

As we approach this Mother’s Day, take some time to consider your mothering relationship with yourself.

How comfortable are you with taking the responsibility for getting your own emotional needs met? Are you able to be your own champion in pursuing the support, growth, and healing you need?

How well are you able to mother yourself with tenderness, love, and compassion when you are tired, hurting, or discouraged? Does imagining yourself as mother to your inner self make it any easier to do that better?

What would help you become a better mother to yourself? Where could find the support to learn those skills?

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