There is a super popular baby book called, Are You My Mother?
In the short a little baby bird goes looking for his mother. It’s a super cute book. The little baby bird finds his mother who looks like him after asking a bunch of random things like planes and cars if they are his mom … they are not.
As I write this there is a pretty popular tv ad running for Progressive Insurance and theme is “how not to become your parents.” Watch it here.
It’s a pretty funny ad. It’s supposed to be selling home owners insurance which I didn’t realize until I looked up the link to share it here.
At different times in our lives we might find comfort in being like our parents and at other times we might want to be nothing like our parents. I do think that for some people understanding our relationships to our parents can help us as parents.
This article is about my journey coming to terms with my personal mom issues, why that might be interesting to you and how I can offer support if you’re in a similar spot.
Perhaps most people have some form of mother issues.
Maybe your issues might be different than mine but I hope this article will still be entertaining and informative.
Simply from a biological perspective none of us would be here without our moms.
I think my mother and I have always had a tough relationship.
I don’t know that if you asked my mom if she would say the same thing.
The short story is that my mother has a mental health condition.
Her condition is not her fault. This is not a post to bash or criticize my mom or any parents.
Nonetheless, her condition is one of the defining parts of my life.
I have carried a lot of embarrassment and shame about my childhood and my mom’s illness into my adulthood.
It’s normal for teens to feel embarrassment… of everything including uncool parents.
My dad taught me not to tell people about my mom’s condition.
You know what – this started as a way to keep me safe.
An unfortunate truth of mental illness is that there is still a stigma attached to it.
Keeping something private can feel like it’s a good thing.
Keeping something private can also become a heavy weight that can really get in the way. For me I think that original story of I need to keep this private … well it’s okay for me to let that go now.
Obviously, writing a very public blog post is not required. You don’t have to shout your details from the rooftops.
I personally think that sometimes if we have unresolved issues with our own childhoods and our own parents this may possibly create problems for us in our own families as we parent.
Of course, not everybody needs to go back and rehash their relationships with their parents.
Figuring out the story I had in my head about my relationship with my mom was part of me being able to decide I wanted to be a parent. Later peeling back these layers was a part of me trusting myself to become the parent and step-parent that I wanted to be.
I don’t want to do it like that!
A lot of times we think about life and goals in terms of going towards things. We work in a direction towards a goal. You work to get the diploma. Graduate from high school, college, get a job, get married and have a family.
There is another way to navigate through life decisions which is when you navigate away from things.
If the house is on fire you may start by only knowing that you need to get away from the fire.
This was my actual strategy with my mom. I aggressively did the opposite of what I thought she did or might do.
If you are into this kind of thing an antihero is a protagonist who does not have heroic characteristics. If a parent is a hero figure that you want to be like yourself my mom was the antihero in my story.
This was probably not a particularly great strategy. It was built on a thought that I had that it was important that I be different than my mom.
It might have been my start of me giving myself permission to be my own version of myself. Eventually unraveling this thought pattern was a good thing for me to do.
If I’m not my mother – – maybe I was never predestined to be exactly like my mom. Maybe I was always in charge of becoming the person I wanted to be.
If that’s true for me then there’s a good chance it can be true for you too.
Deep thoughts about life while running
How did I uncover this for myself?
I’ve been unraveling versions of this or layers of this for a long time but this is one of the more recent levels.
I tend to do some of my best thinking when I’m running by myself. Don’t worry running is not required.
On this day I went for a run.
I was headed back toward my house. Thinking how much I wanted to sell the house but also how grateful I was that I had this house to raise my kids. I was thinking about my kids. Was it the best decision to sell this house. Was I doing the right things as a mom? I was thinking about all the things we have done in that house as a family. Two adults out in the world and two teenagers. Like a lightning bolt I saw clearly from a distance a picture of my family with me in it how different this was from my experience with my mom.
If it’s never happened to you these – messages to yourself can feel weird but it was a clear and definitive thought almost like a voice.
I am not my mom.
Boom. BOOOOOM. (<—- that’s my lightning bolt noise for effect!)
I actually look a lot like my mother but we are very different. My daughter looks very much like me and we are very different.
It just was suddenly very clear that I won’t suddenly become my mother at any point.
This was a crazy thing to be in my head because I had been holding onto this thought – this fear – for such a long time.
If you are into this kind of thing this is what can be called a limiting belief. They can be tricky. It’s a thing you believe to be true and because it’s true it limits what you can do or become.
If you are still hanging on here in this long thing … when I peeled back even more layers I can now see that I would be okay if I was like my mom. This was a layer that was a biggie. Maybe it was never really about being like my mom. That’s a whole other discussion.
Babies and young adults
In my experience this whole fear of becoming our mom or dad shows up at two or three pivotal times in life.
When we are about to have or have a new baby.
When our little kids become young adults or teenagers.
When our adult kids get married or become parents themselves.
These milestones can cause our old personal issues to bubble up.
If this is sounding familiar then you are normal. These are times where it might really help to work with another person to support you as you go through it.
What does it mean to you to be a mom or a parent or a step-parent?
Maybe you’ve never asked yourself this question.
I asked myself this a lot. This might be because I didn’t think I had a good enough model. I probably should have been asking myself a different question.
A truth is that a lot of people do not have awesome parents.
Another truth is that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.
What if it’s a truth that we can work to be the kind of person we want to be?
What kind of person do you want to be?
What kind of step-parent or parent do you want to be?
If this resonates with you reach out. This is the work I do with parents and step-parents.. Click here to find out how to work with me.