Becoming a mother is perhaps one of the most significant shifts in identity and roles that a woman can experience. You go from being responsible for yourself to being responsible for the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being of your child. It can feel scary, daunting, exciting, hopeful, and paralyzing all at the same time. In this experience, you also have the opportunity to re-mother yourself, which can bring up a lot of complicated emotions as well. This conversation comes up frequently in my office as I provide counseling for new moms.
The idea of re-mothering yourself can be a confusing one, but in the process of learning how to care for your child, a mother also learns how to care for herself. We all have experiences with mothers – whether they were loving and attentive or distant and avoidant, as we develop our new roles as mothers, we have a chance to provide our children and ourselves with a different experience than we might have had. The purpose of this work is to allow yourself to have a different relational experience with yourself and your child than you had with your own mother, and to heal any wounds that might have arisen in that relationship. Wounds can take many forms but may include:
- unrealistic expectations of yourself in relationships
- unrealistic expectations of others in relationships
- an inability to care for oneself
- an inability or difficulty seeking help
- being involved in an abusive relationship
- never feeling good enough
- and so on…
The process of re-mothering can be done through insight and relational oriented therapy. In the beginning of the therapy relationship, you may start to explore what your mothering experience looked like. You may go on to explore what you wished it had looked like, and how you might hope to be a different mother. From there, you may start to wonder what it would be like to treat yourself with the same caring, loving, supportive, attentive care that you hope to provide for your child. In the beginning, the therapist might be doing the re-mothering work, but it is the hope that as you learn more about your own experience with your mother, that you can start to do the work yourself. It can be eye opening, scary and sad work, but it can also be hopeful, optimistic, and important work for yourself and for your child.
As mothers we so often focus on others: our children, our significant other, our work outside the home and inside the home. We rarely take the time to focus on ourselves, but the truth is, you can’t take care of others until you care for yourself. To learn more about re-mothering work, please reach out.