February is a month that denotes many things. One that has stood the test of time is Valentine’s Day, which began in 500 A.D. What it fervently symbolizes is the virtue of love in the romantic form.
As we know, however, love comes in many forms, including maternal love. Many believe maternal is the most potent form of love. I would argue that is correct.
On February 4th of 2015, my mother died peacefully in our home with the assistance of hospice care. My greatest wish for her at that time was to keep her pain free ushering her into the next world. With the help of the incredible hospice workers, we succeeded.
Like all of us, my mother was imperfect, but her love for me had no bounds. If I had to choose an animal that represented her, a lion would immediately come to mind. In her desire to protect or state her at times unfiltered position, she would do so with fierce determination. Yes, her roar could be loud and clear. Simultaneously, she was lion-hearted, kind, and most generous.
Being a therapist, I am well aware of the fact there is much unfairness in the world. Not everyone experiences love of this intensity from a biological or an adoptive mother. Many, however, can acquire other forms of mothering. What is most important is the ability to attain nurturance and strength from some form of mothering.
Many of us were unable to have children of our own, and not always inadvertently, found our way into healing professions. Those who chose not to have children often received the calling to serve in these same vocations.
Many people would say it is not the same as being a mother. Fair enough, but what about the individuals who did not receive healthy mothering? Isn’t it fortuitous they find someone who can provide them with a corrective experience and help them heal from such a painful experience?
How about having a role model, mentor, or therapist who can assist them in drawing out unknown strengths and unique gifts that remain submerged?
For those of you who have children and grandchildren, think about the power of your ability to love. As your precious ones grow, most of you want the best for them, better than what you have.
Although you hope and try, sadly, there are never guarantees, but your powerful love provides them with the strength, resilience, and tenacity to navigate a very topsy-turvy world. And you might not know, until years later, how your loving words and actions helped your children to emerge stronger.
Many years ago, I saw a lovely woman, Ms. S, for supportive psychotherapy. I have written and spoken about this remarkable woman in the past. Her story is always worth revisiting.
Ms. S and her husband could not have children of their own. They decided to adopt a distant relative’s child after being legally surrendered by the birth parents. By the time Ms. S adopted her, the little girl was about five or six and severely compromised.
Under her parents’ house, she had been physically, sexually, and emotionally abused. The damage was so profound that psychological testing revealed cognition fell in the range of mild mental retardation, as it was known back in the 80s.
Physicality fell under normal development, placing the little girl in the category of dwarfism. This grave prognosis did not deter Ms. S. She pursued every resource possible to assist her child. When meeting with me, Ms. S. expressed nothing but love during the most challenging times with her daughter.
Ms. S’s determination to provide her little girl with as much normalcy as possible was not in vain. At her request, the psychologists administered testing again several months later. Cognition revealed low average intelligence, and physicality showed the child would be petite but within normal limits.
This mother’s love overcame the predictions of the professional experts. Her strength and belief in her daughter are what contributed to her remarkable gains. The power of maternal love truly has no bounds.
All of us deal with conflicts and challenges during our lifetime – some far more than others. What helps many people is the love, support, and encouragement of their mothers or mother-like figures. Even as Sexagenarians plus, we can revisit those moments that provide us strength and hope.
Last year, I left my psychotherapy group practice after 27 years. Covid accelerated the physical move to my solo practice.
One of my colleagues texted me to say goodbye, and that many would miss me. In this text, she also stated that I was a powerful and fierce woman. I saw it as a compliment, and as I type this, I believe my mother is nodding her head in agreement as she smiles from afar.
What are your thoughts about the power of maternal love? Have you derived strength from it during these troubled times? How do you share maternal love among your children or others?