The Monday morning after Mother’s Day I crawled into yoga with an emotional hangover. It had been a long trying day and I was ready to put it behind me.
“Hey Kat… How was your Mother’s Day?” asked Laurie, my yoga instructor.
“Ugh,” was about all I could muster.
After my less than enthusiastic response, Laurie moved on to the two women on the mats next to me — a mother and daughter who were taking the class together. “So how was your Mother’s Day?” she inquired. In unison, they both raved about what a wonderful day it was. Four generations had gathered together to celebrate and the grandmother was 92 and still going strong.
I turned to both of them, bowed and jokingly said, “Namaste Bitches!”
My own mother died when I was sixteen so Mother’s Day has always been a little tough. But this year, my sons were hundreds of miles away and my husband had to work all day, so I spent the entire day alone and was feeling particularly sorry for myself. Facebook surely wasn’t helping as I scrolled through post after post of happy mothers surrounded by their families.
Ironically, I was working all day on a newsletter and blog post on the very topic of mothers and daughters! To make matters worse, I inadvertently put the wrong link into the newsletter so when I sent it out, hundreds of people tried clicking on the link and my website crashed due to the repeated attempts of redirecting all those broken links.
Thankfully it was time to start class and I could feel myself begin to relax, let go and settle in. Then out of nowhere, I heard this inner voice reminding me of my work with mothers and daughters and that perhaps, instead of being envious I could be curious. Duh! Wasn’t that the very essence of the MAD LOVE Revolution? Finding examples of mothers and daughters who were getting it right and modeling that to others?
After class I went over to them, explained my reaction to their wonderful Mother’s Day and then told them about the work I do with mothers and daughters. Then I asked how their relationship was when the daughter was a teenager. They both said they had a wonderful relationship and never had any of the typical problems that so many mothers and daughters face. So now I really was curious. I asked the mom, “What was the one thing you did that caused your relationship with your daughter to be so extraordinary?”
The mother said, “Hmmm… I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me that before and I honestly never gave it much thought. But I guess if I had to put my finger on one thing, it would be acceptance. I totally accepted my daughter for who she is and never tried to make her into something that she was not. I focused only on the inherent good within her and put all my attention on bringing that out in her. I only supported her in becoming her best self – just the way she was.”
WOW! Isn’t that what we all are looking for- to be loved unconditionally and to be accepted for who we are? So many well-intentioned moms, hover over every detail of their child’s life, trying to control and fix things for their kids while pushing them to be “the best” instead of “their best.” Acceptance is unconditional and creates the space to be curious about who our child is, while allowing them to become that in all its glory.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that we condone certain behaviors or that we don’t help shape our children’s moral character, nor does it mean we should be a Pollyanna and pretend that we are happy in every moment. It’s more about just being in it and experiencing it fully without trying to change it or force a particular outcome. Because only when we surrender to what is, can we be open to receiving divine guidance in how to proceed.
Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, defines acceptance as a “this is it” response to anything occurring in any moment of life. There, strength, peace and serenity are available when one stops struggling to resist, or hang on tightly to what is so in any given moment. Only in the present moment can we find our connection to God and receive the peace that transcends all understanding.
Whatever we resist persists and until we can let go and accept things just the way they are we will not be at peace. Our children are depending on us to carve out that space for them, a place where they can just be and feel accepted for who they are. A place where they feel heard and where they are safe to explore who they are without anyone trying to force them to be something they’re not. Yes, there are so many other tools and strategies to strengthening our relationships such as communication skills and setting boundaries, but it is almost impossible to implement any of them until this vital first step has been taken.
Later that same week I went to a women’s 12-step recovery meeting and the topic was… ACCEPTANCE! I nearly fell off my chair. God was clearly trying to get my attention and drive home this point.
The chairperson read this excerpt from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake … Unless I accept my life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
It doesn’t matter if it’s alcohol or any other other substance or manifestation such as control, perfectionism or people pleasing— we are all addicted to something. Most of us are completely addicted to thinking that things should be different than how they are and as a result we force our unrealistic expectations onto others.
But we cannot give what we don’t have. If there is some aspect of ourselves that we still cannot accept, then we will be triggered all the more by external situations. Therefore it is necessary to practice self-acceptance and learn how to love ourselves unconditionally too. Some of us never got that from our moms and in order to heal that relationship we must also accept that she was (or still is) an imperfect person who was doing the best she could. Had I not gone through everything I did with my own mother, I probably wouldn’t be doing the work I do today with mothers and daughters.
So what are you holding onto? What are you unwilling to accept? Sometimes we are just too close to our own shit to be able to gain the much needed perspective to make that shift. In my coaching, I become a mirror to help you see how your own thoughts and resistance are keeping you stuck and then invite you to step into a new vision of what’s possible for your life and your relationships.
If you’re ready to try a different approach, I’d be happy to offer you a FREE 60 minute Breakthrough Discovery Session (for you, your daughter or both of you) to help you release your grip of how you think things are “supposed to be” and begin to accept things just the way they are so that you can discover a newfound peace to create what you really want.