Caution: I’m airing some very soiled laundry here.
I am a recovering devouring mother.
If by chance you’ve had the privilege of reading or listening to Jordan B Peterson’s work on the psychology of motherhood you may especially appreciate this term.
As a mom, I have always wanted my children to live good lives. Certainly there is a nobility in this, as we all desire good for people we love.
A problem occurs when my definition of good is laced with expectations of my own reputation or fulfillment. This is not exactly what true goodness is. Nor is it a life free of challenges and obstacles.
Nestled in motherhood is the very real idea of giving birth, separating the mother from the child, or more to the point, separating the child from its mother.
As my children, now in adulthood, find their path, it is my job to allow the ‘separation’ that is appropriate.
For each child this job has been unique. I find I’m not alone as many friends and family members my age are struggling to walk wisely through this passage of life. In case you haven’t noticed, there is a significant difference in the way the generations view life. In the age of helicopter parents I find myself in hover mode far too often, hand-wringing over what the future will bring.
Make no mistake; I enjoy a loving relationship with each of my children. But often my default is fear, and not without reason. Life can be a fearful place. But the antidote to fear is truth mixed with courage. When I face my fears I become stronger, more filled with courage. The same is true for my children. I cannot keep them from all harm, as this keeps them from developing courage.
I’m a rescuer by nature, given to compassion and often swayed by a desire to protect myself and my family from harm. This is both a great gift and my deepest weakness. Too often my protection of my children is a raw desire to protect myself from my own fears.
I seek the courage to be the kind of mother who totally releases my children to be the best versions of themselves rather than the best version I see for them. As youth can be foolhardy, so age can be blind.
I have been particularly encouraged by the writings of Allyson Matsoso, a busy mother of five young children who has wisdom beyond her years.
May God give me the courage to let go, the truth to examine my weakness and face it, and the grace to be the best version of myself, to leave that legacy for the next generation. This is enough of a task for one lifetime.