My mum turns 60 this year, a huge milestone and a new chapter which I hope and wish that she can approach with much joy, enthusiasm and excitement. I have been thinking about her birthday for a few months now and wondering what on earth to get her that would sum up everything that she means to me. It isn’t easy, I’ve known her for 37 years don’t you know!
I have recently finished attending a set of four hypnotherapy sessions for a bad habit that I’ve picked up over the last few years. I’ve been clenching my teeth at night so hard that I’ve actually broken two of my molars and that has worked out not only to be very expensive but also potentially life-threatening. Cracked teeth are one of the fastest, most sure-fired ways of getting nasty bacteria and other microbes into the body and apparently many heart issues stem from teeth in trauma. Oh My Goodness NOOOOOOO! And so I whisked myself off for therapy, thinking that a quick fix here would save me a life of pain ‘there’…….
Of course hypnotherapy did so much more for me than cure me of my teeth clenching problem – actually it hasn’t immediately ‘cured’ that habit but it has taken the edge off it and I’m sure that with a bit more time I will be able to stop completely. The best thing that I learned from Hypno was about gratitude.
Now before I come across all ‘little miss ungrateful and bitter’ that hasn’t been the case at all but after piling business building, book writing, family building, bill paying, new country exploring, sports competing, career ladder climbing and all the ebbs and flows of ones personal life into my brain sized bucket I’d sprung a few leaks. Things were getting messy, busy and overwhelming and that overwhelmed feeling was manifesting in endless dreams about waves crashing over me and teeth clenching. Oh what treasures lie hidden in the subconscious mind…….
So what does that have to do with my mums birthday then?
Well, part of my ‘therapy’ was to find the time (slow down, create space, stop-before-you-full-stop) to write a gratitude diary (concentrate on all the good things that surround you). My therapist told me to write about whatever I chose but to write daily and to make the time to do it properly. This, primed by the relaxation and visualisation sessions that preceded it has helped me immensely and while I revelled in the little triumphs and incidental moments of joy that surrounded me every day lead me to the realisation that I hadn’t actually expressed my gratitude to my mum for what seems like forever.
Mum and I haven’t lived together since I was about 17 which, when I think about it is 20 years and more than 1/2 my life ago. I can’t believe that it has been so long but that’s what happens in life, we get so busy and move so quickly filling every second with stuff that mostly doesn’t matter anyway that we forget to say thank you and forget to share our stories, make memories and grow together.
So, I decided that it was time that I turned my gratitude towards my mum and make that my birthday gift to her.
The plan – 37 years of this relationship needs 37 thank you’s, one for each and every year of this life-changing relationship and as such I have be scouring the world for little gifts, memory-joggers and symbols of thanks for a life well lived and a job well done. These are winging their way towards my mother now, one for each day until her birthday in mid June. I’m excited if not a little worried that the postal journey from Australia to her in Scotland may see this plan delivered in a somewhat lumpy way!
As a mother of two daughters I know that motherhood can be the best of times and the worst of times. We (daughters) rebel, challenge, scream, tug and run at times as we strive to carve out our own niche, our private identity and our sense of self. We (mothers) spend our child’s childhood in an often frantic state of pure love, pride, angst, self-doubt, worry, anger, frustration, triumph and awe. It’s complicated and exhausting and I’ve not even got mine out of primary school yet!
Looking further at the mother/ daughter relationship it seems to me that it has three distict phases, none of which can be reached without much soul searching and awareness by the ‘child’. I don’t believe that there are any natural time limits on each stage and am pretty sure that some people go to the grave while still in pure awe of their mothers having never felt the need to journey further while others never pass rebellion and all of its self-doubting anguish. I have an understanding of the importance of this cycle for me but I can’t project that onto you so feel free to make up your own mind as to the benefits of ‘cycling’ or not.
We spend the first third of our lives in awe of our mothers (whether they are with us physically or not) holding them up like perfect angels and showering them in love and adoration. They do nothing wrong and we want nothing more than to be with them, to be like them and to seek comfort from them at every turn. In short we see the world as it is reflected through our mothers eyes. This child-like love turns into something less idolistic during the second phase of life as we seek to conquer the ‘self’.
From Awe to Perception and into Reality.
We start to challenge and question words said and unsaid, priorities, choices and boundaries. We spend pretty much all of this phase knowing what we are not and striving to do anything but turn into our mothers (heaven forbid) and while this is good, necessary even in order for us to grow and become self-aware and self-sufficient it is a time that has to pass. We know what we are not but are no closer to knowing what we are.
With the third and final phase comes reality and self-identity. We see this most precious of relationships for what it is (again, the mother doesn’t have to physically be with us for this progression as sadly that is not always possible) and what it is is magical. We identify with ourselves as full, whole people with a strong sense of what we are, what we want and where we are going. We no longer seek approval or acceptance from outside of ourselves as we realise that we now have all that we need. We realise that as adults we all do the best we can with the tools and resources we have at the time, that while we can never ‘know’ what it is to be or feel from another perspective but we can trust and be kind. We understand that what is made with love is love. We know that the time for judgement of what is past has passed and we understand what is to come is all good.
I am grateful that I have this opportunity to say thank you to my mum and to share with her some of the many good memories, lessons and things that have been handed down by her and mean so much to me. This journey has surprised me in a way that has been beyond my comprehension and for that I am truly grateful.
So mum, happy birthday for next month and in the meantime enjoy your gratitude shower and the little gifts and surprises that are flying your way.
Love you xxx