Moms Without a Mom: Missing Out On The Love of a Mother
The Love of a Mother
We are hard-wired to seek out the love of a mother, regardless of what our relationship was like with our own mother. Infants and young children only survive if they are taken care of. It is simply a biological imperative to want to be loved by a mother.
Unfortunately, there are millions of us raising our own children without the support and guidance of a loving mom in our life. If you don't have a mothers love, regardless of the reason, there are unique experiences and challenges that impact your own experience as a mother.
I was 25 years old when my mother died and we had been estranged for the eight months prior to her death. Growing up, my mom was the life of our small town in the Catskill Mountains of New York. She did everything from running her own real estate business to teaching emergency medical services and even serving as our town magistrate. To me, she was larger than life, my hero. But as I grew up, I learned she was just as human as the rest of us, with her own set of scars. When I became a mom myself, I found myself yearning to understand her experiences and struggles as a woman and mother, something I never quite appreciated when she was with us.
My journey in motherhood without a mothers love has been a learning curve, filled with challenges, questions, and a longing to understand her experiences as a woman and a mother. But I've also realized that it's not just about living in her shadow or missing her guidance. It's about forging my path, learning, growing, and finding my strength as a mom. And if you're walking a similar path, know this—you are not alone, and you have the power to thrive as a mom without a mom. In the following sections, I will share some practical tips and insights that have helped me and might serve as a valuable guide for you, too.
The Moms Without a Mom Club
First and foremost, I want you to know that you're not alone. As I mentioned above, there are millions of moms who don't have a meaningful relationship with their mothers. Whether your mother has passed away or you don't have a healthy supportive relationship with your mother, the emotions you might be feeling—longing for the supportive and nurturing presence of your own mother, feeling alone in your motherhood journey, or even wrestling with feelings of jealousy when you see other moms with their own—are all valid and shared by many others in your situation.
The Unique Challenges of Motherhood Without A Mother's Love
Motherhood can feel daunting, and the absence of a maternal figure amplifies that challenge. You might even judge yourself harshly for every tiny thing that goes wrong or feel envious of moms who have their own mothers around. However, it's important to remember that your feelings are normal and justified. Being a mom without a mom creates unique challenges, but it doesn't mean you're doing motherhood wrong.
If you don't have the support and guidance of a loving mother in your day-to-day life, you are likely to:
- experience a grief process related to not having the support and guidance of a loving mom in their day-to-day life.
- feel the absence of an easily identifiable “go-to” person that moms typically function as.
- experience a disruption in creating a mom identity.
It's okay to feel these emotions and challenges—it's part of your unique journey in motherhood. And just know, it doesn't make you any less of an amazing mom. Even with these unique obstacles, you have the power to create a loving, nurturing world for your kids, and for yourself too. Remember, you're not alone in this, and your unique journey is a testament to your strength and resilience. You got this!
This TEDx talk further explains these challenges.
Building Your Support Network
Building a strong support network is critical when navigating motherhood without your own mother. You can develop your "Mom Community" from a range of sources:
1. Childhood Friends: These can provide deep-rooted support, even if they're far away.
2. Family Members: Relationships with family can evolve in surprising and supportive ways after a baby is born.
3. Faith Communities: Houses of worship often offer family activities and can help you connect with like-minded moms.
4. Parent Organizations: From daycare parent groups to preschool associations, these can provide an instant network of moms in similar situations.
5. Community Resources: Libraries, parks, and community centers often have programs for families, offering another chance to connect.
6. Professionals: Don't overlook the help from daycare providers, therapists, life coaches, and other professionals. They can provide unique insights and support.
Remember, everyone will play different roles in your support network, and that's okay. Appreciate your friends for their unique strengths:
- Some friends might be Wise Women, comfortable sharing their wisdom and advice.
- Some might be Emotional Supporters, always there to lend an ear and ask how you're doing.
- Others might be Go-Getters, always planning activities and helping out with tasks.
- And some might be Late Night Talkers, ready for a chat during those late-night feeds or early-morning wake-ups.
Check out this Blog post for more information about who we need in our community.
Finally, don't hesitate to seek help. Accepting assistance doesn't make you a burden; it strengthens your community and makes you a better friend, too. Remember, nobody expects you to shoulder everything alone, so lean on your community when you need it.
Forming Your Mom Identity
We aren't born knowing who we are. Our early life experiences, the environments we grow up in, and the people we are raised with all influence our sense of self. We learn about ourselves by learning how we are similar and different from other people in our lives.
As a mom, I know you have witnessed your children mimic your behavior. I remember how cute I thought it was when my two-year-old son Jackson would pretend to vacuum with me each time I pulled out the vacuum. This isn't something I taught him to do; he just did it. A child's brain is wired to mimic and copy the actions and behaviors of adults. Every human does this automatically.
Even in adulthood, we continue to use other people as models for our behavior. Ironically, we don’t even recognize the fact that we're doing it (and let's face it, every teenager out there thinks they are entirely original). Becoming a mom isn’t any different from other new behaviors. Our brain automatically wants to learn from what it has observed others doing.
So what happens if your mom is dead, or you don't have a healthy relationship with her, or if she lives in a different part of the world than you?
You need to actively create a mom identity that feels healthy to you. This includes things you valued about your mother while simultaneously disconnecting from those that were not consistent with your own values and identity.
You are Not Alone even if you don't have the love of a mother
To all those moms out there without a mom, remember, you are not alone. Many of us are on this journey too, navigating the beautiful yet challenging path of motherhood without the guiding light of our own moms. As the founder of Moms Without A Mom, and a mom without a mom myself, I know the pain and challenges all too well. But I also know the strength, resilience, and boundless love we possess. We might not have a mom to lean on, but we can lean on each other, forming a nurturing community that stands in solidarity.