This morning I came across an article that talked about the difficulties and challenges experienced between mothers and daughters which are often not openly spoken about. The root of these issues is the "Mother Wound", the "pain of being a woman passed down through generations of women in patriarchal cultures".
According to Bethany Webster, the author of this article, our patriarchal, male-dominated culture has conditioned women to think of themselves as “less-than” and not deserving or worthy. When such “less-than” feelings are internalised and passed down unconsciously, they often form "limiting beliefs" about one's own true potential and power. When the daughter does recognise them as such and decides to actualise her own potential, then she does so with the risk of possibly being rejected to some degree by her mother where upon seeing her daughter embracing empowerment may trigger sadness or rage within the mother at having had to give up parts of herself in her own life.
Webster continues to point out that the "Mother Wound" exists because in our society there is no safe place for mothers to process their rage about the sacrifices that has been demanded of them. Our society also projects unspoken messages unto mothers, advising them that "natural mothers" find motherhood easy so if you are experiencing difficulties, then you are at fault because as a woman, you are supposed to be "capable of handling it all with ease: having well-behaved children, being sexually attractive, having a successful career, and a solid marriage".
At the end of the day, we need to be reminded that like ourselves, mothers are also human beings, not super humans. This means that there are some mothers who are simply unloving for various reasons including addiction, mental illness or other struggles they may be enduring. It is only when we acknowledge and accept this uncomfortable reality that we can truly heal the "Mother Wound".
When we become consciously aware that the beliefs and habits of our mothers form the basis of our own, we can take responsibility of healing the "Mother Wound" by ceasing to "hide behind false masks that hide our pain under a façade of effortlessly holding it together. The pain can then be seen as legitimate, embraced, processed and integrated and ultimately transformed into wisdom and power."
Webster advises that when the pain no longer needs to go underground and into shadow, it can then be turned into love. This love is one that "manifests as fierce support of one another and deep self-acceptance, freeing us to be boldly authentic, creative and truly fulfilled".
After reading Webster's article, I reflected back on the relationship I have with my own mother. A rather auspicious time of reflection considering that today is her birthday. Did she feel "less than" for being a mother or had any unresolved anger, suppressed sadness towards what society expected of her? Being my first role model of womanhood, she taught me many invaluable lessons, the most important of all being her generosity and simply being who she is.
Source: The Mother Wound by Bethany Webster