Dear Dr. Norquist:
Mother’s Day is this weekend and I’m having a mixed reaction. I know I’m still angry at my mother for the many ways she was absent and more interested in her social life than in raising me and my sister. However, I’m pregnant now and expecting my first child (a daughter) in July. So now I’m wondering how my daughter will feel about me in the future. It’s a strange feeling knowing that I will soon be a mother. I’m really going to try to not do the things my mother did. I’m wondering how my daughter will view me 30 years from now and really hoping I can feel like I did a good job. Do you have any advice to help me do a good job at mothering?
Dr. Norquist responds:
As much as possible, heal your own wounds. This will benefit your daughter as much as yourself. What is unresolved stays active and ready to be projected unto current life situations. Becoming a mother cannot help but bring up your own unresolved concerns regarding your own relationship with your mother. This is only natural. No one has had perfect mothering. As Winnicott, a British pediatrician/psychiatrist notes, what we all need is “good enough” mothering. The imperfections of the “good enough” mothering experience help to spur our growth and force us to develop our inner resources for navigating life. Blaming your mother for what she could not or did not give you leaves you stuck in the past. What will help you now is to focus instead on what you can do to heal your own anger and un-met needs. Developing a sense of responsibility towards your own well-being will allow you to move into a more empowered experience of yourself. After all, you are responsible for who you are and how you deal with whatever you did or didn’t receive.
Regarding mothering; give yourself time and space in the midst of this hectic life to truly be with and delight in the process of loving and resonating with your daughter. Try to see clearly who she is and support her in blossoming into all that she wants to be. Know that there will be pain in her life and this will cause you pain as well. This is unavoidable. But there will be great joy also. Loving leaves your heart forever vulnerable. Recognize that she will have her own journey to embark upon; her own lessons to learn, desires to express and gifts to offer. Provide her a secure and loving base from which to launch herself. Do the best you can and then forgive yourself for your shortcomings. We are all in the process of learning and growing. Savor the moments, as they pass all too quickly. This is a journey of love.
Check out Dr. Norquist’s new blog GrowingThroughParenting.com
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanyacounseling.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2018 Chaitanya Counseling Services