Client Journal: Mother Love/Mother Expression

Unmothered Daughters

We love our mothers, hate our mother, are angry and hurt by our mothers and hunger for their approval. How do we learn to be the daughters to mothers who are needing mothers as well? Most of the time daughters go into power and control, try to be bigger than their mothers to feel powerful so we don’t feel how insecure and needy we are. Or we collapse and fall into self hatred because we feel rejected by our mothers, and reject ourselves if our mothers don’t approve of us. We want to get rid of our mothers, ignore our mothers and pretend what they say doesn’t bother us. Or we lash out, rebel, or caretake our mother’s unresolved childhood needs. We become sisters to our mother, friends and listen to their problems about their marriages, and their family of origin patterns with siblings and parents. Sometimes we collude with our fathers against the mother so we feel accepted. All the same, our mothers are our role models and if we reject them, we reject the feminine. This is the feminine shadow side; the critical mother, the collapsed mother, angry mother, the sister mother, the sacrificial mother, the care taker mother, the people pleaser mother, the wounded child mother. Then we have the universal archetypes. The Madonna, the Prostitute, The Virgin, The Goddess, The Greek Goddesses; Isis, Persephone, Artemis, Aphrodite, Athena, Hera, then there is The Savior, The Good Mother, The Bad Mother, etc…the mythological Divine Mother. There are many aspects to the feminine. It is important to explore what aspect of the woman is hidden and running your life. Our mothers embody who we are. When we can learn to accept our mothers we can learn to accept ourselves. That does not mean we don’t express to our mother, but learning to express from our need for our mothers, vulnerable and clear, we can begin to be daughters and grow into the mothers that allow our children to know the multifaceted qualities that deepen their understanding of themselves… life becomes more dimensional….

Mother Expression 1…In Black American culture, hair is extremely important. It is a sign of beauty and proves that one has assimilated successfully into White America. I bring this up because about a year and a half ago when I decided to cut my hair my mom flipped out and still continues to flip out and critique my hair every time she sees me. Over the phone she asks, “Is your hair growing? Did you cut it again?” When she says this, I feel sad and angry. Sad because it hurts my feelings. Angry because I think how long or short someone’s hair is doesn’t determine how pretty they are, I also get angry because for right now at least, I feel that my current hairstyle suits me better than the boring shoulder length hair I used to have, I get more compliments now on my hair than I did then. And maybe this is a little beside the point, but I am angry that she buys into that whole slave mentality bullshit propaganda.

The next time she asks about my hair I will say, “Mom I feel angry when you keep asking me if my hair is growing. I like the way it looks, it is healthy, which are the only things I am concerned about when it comes to my hair. I feel sad and hurt when you keep asking about the length of my hair because I feel that because it is short, I am not good enough or worthy enough as a person.” This week in general I have been feeling really angry. I am angry that I have such a cold, critical mother and that nothing I do is good enough for her. And I am really getting that trying to live my life just to please her only hurts me more, because I’m trying to be this imaginary perfect person and doing so just turns me into a numb robot. It hurts that nothing I do will be good enough for her. But at the same time, it is starting to give me the freedom to stop living for her and to start living for myself.

Mother Expression 2 I was thinking about conversations with my mom and the things that she says that bothers me. Something that came to mind, was the topic of dating. Over this summer, I went out on a date with someone, my mom called to ask me how it went. When she asked about what we talked about, she asked if the topic of family came up. Like how many brothers and sisters, what do they do, what do the parents do, etc. When I answered and told her the general information I had learned about the guy’s family, she immediately asked, “Oh, did you tell him that your sister is a lawyer? How did he respond to that? Did you tell what school she went to? How many kids she has? What law school she went to? Where she went for undergrad? Where she lives? Who she works for? That she is a partner in a major law firm?” When I told her that I only mentioned that she was older, married with children and lives in Virginia, she asked, “Why didn’t you tell him the other stuff?”

At the time, I shut down and changed the subject to cover up the hurt and anger that I felt. I was hurt that she was wondering why I didn’t talk about my sister more. Why would I? The guy was trying to date me, not my sister. I also felt angry that she thought that someone who is trying to date me would rather hear about her life than mine. When that situation comes up again, I will say something like, “Mom, I feel hurt when you wonder why I don’t talk to my date about my sister’s life. He is trying to get to know me, not her. It also makes me angry that you seem to think that her life is worth talking about more than mine. I feel sad when you do this and it makes me not want to talk to you about my love life.”

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