If you've been around for a while you're likely familiar with the notorious first episode of our show entitled "The Things We Learn From Our Mothers". This episode explored the idea that, contrary to popular belief, not all people have friction-less relationships with their mothers. The episode also explored lessons we learned from our own mothers and how those lessons have impacted us in life.
Some of us view our mothers as all-knowing, all-powerful, mistake-avoidant women who have somehow managed to do it all. Others are able to see their mothers' flaws and perhaps shortcomings in the way they managed to raise (or in some cases not raise) us into semi-functional adults.
This episode however calls us to view our mothers not as inherently perfect or imperfect. It calls us to view them as human.
Here are four lessons we should all learn from our mothers:
The Importance of Seeing Our Mothers As Human, Not Just Our Mothers
No matter the condition of your relationship with your mother it may be easy to forget that despite being your mother, she is a human being who has had a lived experience in the same way that you have. Your mother has had her own love life, trauma, mental health struggles, and other milestones and experiences separate from the experience of raising you. Acknowledging our mothers' humanities allows us not only to see them for who they really are but also understand them, their emotions, and their actions. Their humanity doesn't call us to excuse any negative behavior, but encourages us to give empathy.
The Importance of Acknowledging and Working Through Generational Trauma
In thinking about our own mothers' life experiences we also have to think about the pain that may be embedded in those experiences. Many of us, especially those coming from communities of color, may be dealing with trauma that has been passed down through generations. It's also likely that those who struggle in their relationships with their mothers might also notice a similar struggle in the relationship between their mothers and grandmothers. In order for us to heal and begin breaking those cycles, it's important for us to create space to acknowledge that trauma. For some of us that might mean having open conversations with our mothers about their lived experiences and relationships and identifying where those cycles have repeated themselves in our own lives.
The Importance of Apologizing To Your Children
In the episode we touched briefly on how apologies from parents, or lack thereof, can significantly impact a relationship. Many children grow up with an understanding that parents do not apologize. Many parents navigate the raising of children with an understanding that children do not need apologies. In our personal experiences the lack of apologies and the lack of acknowledging hurtful conversations and actions caused fractures in those relationships. If you are a parent, we're here to encourage you to get in the habit of recognizing that you are capable of making mistakes with your children and hurting their feelings. Apologizing to them teaches them that no one is incapable of making mistakes and that everyone should be accountable to the way they make others feel.
The Importance of Giving Grace Where Needed
One thing I (Jeaiza) personally regret from the recording of this episode is the lack of grace that I gave my own mother when talking about the things I felt were missing in our relationship. The words were my truth, but the episode did not give my mother much credit for all of the GOOD things she'd done in raising me (and she had done SO many good things.) At the time, I was pre-therapy and did not have the tools to acknowledge that although I was hurt I could still give my mother grace for being human and never intentionally causing me harm. For those who are in that same boat, I encourage you to find some grace. This doesn't meant to forgive someone who might be toxic or harmful. It does mean that if you plan to have a relationship with someone, you have to be willing to give them the time, knowledge, and patience that it takes to do better by you.
What's your relationship like with your mother? How often do you talk about each other's lives outside of the dynamic of your mother-child relationship? Comment below.