It’s nearly Mother’s Day here in the UK, and I’ve been thinking about Harriet Lerner’s wonderful book ‘The Mother Dance’ that I received years ago from a wonderful colleague, and dip into often. Part of my preparation for this Mother’s Day is going to be putting my feet up with a cup of tea and delving back into this wonderful source of wisdom.
‘From the celebrated author of The Dance of Anger comes an extraordinary book about mothering and how it transforms us — and all our relationships — inside and out. Written from her dual perspective as a psychologist and a mother, Lerner brings us deeply personal tales that run the gamut from the hilarious to the heart-wrenching. From birth or adoption to the empty nest, The Mother Dance teaches the basic lessons of motherhood: that we are not in control of what happens to our children, that most of what we worry about doesn’t happen, and that our children will love us with all our imperfections if we can do the same for them. Here is a gloriously witty and moving book about what it means to dance the mother dance.’
I’m a daughter, a granddaughter and a mother, and recently I’ve been mulling over what this means to me in the here and now, the Russian dolls fitting into each other. My maternal family come from northern France, with the history of upheaval and trauma that entails, through war and struggle. There are family stories of my grandmother having to abandon her beloved red bedcover as the family tried to escape the Occupied Zone because it was attracting attention from fighter planes above.
I’m going to be thinking about the things that happened in my family that continue to affect how I show up in the world and I invite you at this time that is focussed on mothers and mothering to do the same. You might ask yourself:
What are my beliefs about mothers?
Is this different to the mother I was given?
How do I mother the people in my life? (We can all do this, including those who don’t identify as female or feminine)
How could I mother them in a way that better aligns with my values?
It was a great experience, I chatted with the writer for about an hour about research, theory and my thoughts on how sibling relationships are developed and maintained. We talked about how birth order can play a part in this, as well as family patterns and personalities.
She told me a bit about something she wanted to shift in her relationship with her siblings and I suggested some ideas of things to think about that she went away and tried. A week later she told me she’d been surprised at the shift that had happened and that she was planning to keep going with the changes she was making.
I wanted to share with you a great habit that I was taught to carry out at the turn of the year, and which has served me well .. which is reflecting on what happened in the past year and how I handled it.
I love the quiet time in between Christmas and New Year and I made a commitment to myself a while ago to take this time for myself, for quiet enjoyment of the season, the weather, and taking a look back over the past twelve months.
Life has a habit of throwing the unexpected in our way, however well we plot and plan our lives, and often I’ll be surprised at the things that happened that I could never have predicted the year before. Sometimes these are wonderful and sometimes less so: in examining how I responded I find clues to who I am and how I’m showing up in my life and others’
So maybe you’d like to join me. Carve out a little space for yourself in the next few days to ask these questions:
What happened in this past year that I could never have predicted?
How did I respond? Was that helpful to me and those around me?
Who was important to me in the past year?
What one thing would I have liked to be different?
What would I like to do differently in this coming year?
I’d love to hear your thoughts .. do you have any other questions you’ve found useful?
So as we know from the kids’ nativity Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem for the census .. and today I’d like you to start a mental tally chart of the good things in your life, and how many are possible because of the love and support of your partner.
Keep adding whenever you think of one and watch that list grow .. find a beautiful notebook and start a gratitude journal if that’s how you roll .. notice how it feels good to know you’re not dependent or independent of each other .. but inter-dependent, two people who support and appreciate each other.
You’ve just spent 19 days doing something every day for the benefit of your relationship .. notice a difference yet?
So now you’re a super honed relationship athlete in tip top condition it’s time to start looking for opportunities to flex those muscles ..
Keep your eyes and ears open for the many small opportunities that come up today to make a difference, and see how many you take .. send me your scores by commenting on this post, or on Twitter or Facebook if you prefer .. a relationship Christmas star for the winner!
After a while together it’s easy to assume your honey knows everything about you, but stop a minute and think about that .. in reality you go out and learn new stuff about yourself every day, you’re constantly changing and growing and there’s no way your partner could keep up with all those new bits of you ..
So share something your honey doesn’t know about you today .. a new favourite food, or maybe somewhere you’d REALLY like to be kissed (behind your ears, between the sheets or maybe in public?) 😉