Mothers. Much has been written about, dedicated to, analyzed, scrutinized and attributed to this pillar of our existence. Over the years, the cliché of the patient on a couch being asked “Why do you hate your mother?” has become as familiar as Toll House® cookies and Goodnight Moon.
We blame the ‘refrigerator mothers’ of the 50’s, working mothers in the 70’s, we point fingers at coddling, aloofness, guilt, rigidity, permissiveness. Mothers it seems, have fought a losing battle over the years.
I admit, I did my share of “mother blame” through the therapy-laden decades in which I raised my children.
In the early years, I designed my parenting based on what I perceived as having been “wrong” or “bad” in my own upbringing. I consciously eliminated every negative and replaced it with its antithesis.
This was happening contemporaneously in the now adult relationship with my mother who I concluded lived her life in denial. (Yes, I bought into the 80’s like a kid with a Cabbage Patch Doll). Yet another reason to look for the antithesis!
As time went on, and I was fairly pleased with the way things were progressing with my own daughters, something very strange was happening. My daughters began to engage in a dialogue with me (no hidden agendas in THIS household!) that let me know how some of the things I did on behalf of the family might not be in everyone’s best interest.
Could this be so? How cruel of them! How unfair! After all I’d done for them…….oops.
Many a mother reaches this precipice: We can choose to hear what’s being said or go into defense mode and confuse the issue. Well, I have to say, deflecting did cross my mind, but that would go against what I set out to do in the beginning. Antithesis.
Turning points can show up at the most unexpected times, and this was one of them. Suddenly, I felt a true sisterhood to my mother. It became clear to me that creating a family life that you desire is more than eliminating what didn’t work, but remembering that there were some wonderful things that happened, as well. Plus, antithesis is not always an improvement.