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3 Ways to Reconcile Your Own Childhood in Your Role as a Mother

By Ilene Marcus May 07, 2019 Mindset

Nothing surpasses motherhood. Of all the feelings, emotions and do-overs I would like in my life, my relationship with myself vis-a-vis my daughter is at the top of the list.

I always ask myself a stream of questions: Did I launch her? Is she like me? Is she too much like me? Did I give her the right values? Did I nurture her enough? Did we have enough tender moments? Did I show her my best self?

Do you see the common thread?

It’s always about me. Me. Me. Me. This time it is an important question: Was I enough for the most important creation of my life?

Compensating for Your Own Childhood as a Mother

Today, a switch flipped. In truth though, I know it didn’t just switch. This was like a seedling working to get out of the mud, and it has been trying to flower for some time now. All those years of thinking I was being selfless with my daughter, I was actually still working on my relationship with my own mother.

My new favorite song kickstarted this emotional jump. A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega by Ashley McBryde (my big-time girl crush and fellow Bourbon fan) is one of those Bobby McGee/Janis Joplin kind of songs. Every line is jam-packed with meaning and describes the back stories of my life.

I have always been looking for my safe place, where everything is all right. Now, after being a daughter for almost six decades and only a mother for 23 years, it flipped. I am the mother. Not the daughter.

Growing Up as a Mother

Up until today, when I would hear the word “mother,” I would always think about mine. And my own issues. I was stuck in child mode; developed no further.

I get it now. I am the adult. As a mother or motherless, I cannot evolve until I take responsibility for my actions and feelings.

I didn’t know how to process my need for comfort; what to search for when I don’t feel right. I know I don’t search for my mother but that’s another topic altogether.

So how can I find the comfort I crave and live with the choices I made as a child and now as a parent? These are the lessons I aspire to remember:

I Did the Best I Could

As my mother before me and her mother before her, I did the best I could. Some of the family historical threads are still pulled through tightly, but overall, we make the best of what we have.

Those blind spots not only protect us from ourselves, however, but from our true selves as well. And when I can love myself for who I was and who I have become, I accept that I did the best I could, as my mother before me.

What You Worry About Usually Never Happens

We all worry about something. It’s human nature. We worry about the ramifications of our actions and yet, no one can predict what will happen in any given moment in the future.

So, I can worry if my daughter inherited my worst traits, but her triggers will be something entirely different than what I worry about.

No One Is Perfect

One of my dearest friends hit the bullseye when I told her I was afraid of doing what my mother did to me. She said: “You know what, whether you are rich or poor, tall or short, it happens with family or friends or business. Everyone has an issue they need to overcome.”

We are human and we are full of suffering. We are also full of overcoming our suffering. Give your lovers, friends, siblings and offspring the space to work out their own issues.

Be your best self now. Honor your roots while growing where you know you need to grow. Take it slow. Reconciling your life choices is almost about as hard as it gets.

What are you working on reconciling with your own childhood and mother? Please share your story in the comments below.

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The Author

Ilene Marcus, MSW, MPA, is the author of Managing Annoying People and runs Aligned Workplace, speaking and training Leaders and Founders to attract and retain great employees. An emerging literary writer, her goal is to make you smile just a bit more. Please visit her website at

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