Why are mother-child relationships so deeply influential on the essence of our entire beings?
What is it about a mama in particular that affects each of us so radically to our very core?
Whether we’ve experienced a mostly smooth childhood with a nurturing mother who radiated love and acceptance, or fell somewhere toward the other end of the continuum and dealt with cold, distant, oppressed, addicted, abusive or even no mothers at all, the relationships we’ve had seem to have a lasting effect on our sense of selves as women and mothers. Our inner child was taking notes.
We watched the way our moms loved and treated themselves, looking for cues on how to translate that into our own self love. We looked to her for permission and validation. Am I okay? Am I enough? We noticed if and when she couldn’t love herself enough to love us the way we needed her to.
The moment we began to see our mothers as humans that didn’t have all the answers but were just trying their best to play the cards they were dealt, our foundation was probably rocked.
You don’t know what you’re doing either?!
Lord, help us.
Many of us carry such raw “mother wounds” around with us through our lives, mourning a mother we needed but didn’t have, or grieving for the untimely loss of a mother that we did have who was such a source of strength and joy to us that we feel like we’re sleepwalking and numb without her physical presence in our everyday lives. Unfinished.
Now, as we’ve grown into women and mamas ourselves, some of us have sort of forgotten about the little girl with real needs that we have been (either gradually and accidentally or very deliberately through avoidance). We’ve put our heads down and pushed forward, thinking we left her behind somewhere as we’ve become wives, mothers, “grown-ups”. Thinking she’s back somewhere in Neverland chasing boys and hula-hooping, content to be estranged from us…a wounded, needy monkey off our back.
But that little girl? That wild-eyed, innocent, intuitive, deeply wise and playful little girl? She’s still with each of us. She was gracious enough to move over and allow space for our other archetypal roles, but she’s still in there and she demands our attention. She needs our nurturing, our acceptance, our playfulness!
She’s the part of us that suffers when we stagnate in relationships or jobs that aren’t serving us. She’s the wise little owl that lets us know when someone or something is dangerous and not to be trusted. When we’re creative and playful, it’s her open-hearted innocence that takes the lead and guides us. It’s her bravery that allows us to fall in love and follow our happiness. When we’re feeling small, frightened, unloved or unworthy it’s her deeply rooted fears and wounds we’re responding to.
Children are oracles, teachers and guides if we let them be. They show us what is important, what we need to face and where our hidden strengths lie.
Your inner child is no different!
If she’s been mothered traumatically, or holds on tightly to mother wounds, you can help her let go and find acceptance, healing, trust and love by being the mother to yourself that you needed when you were little. Or by being the mother to yourself that you need now, for that matter.
In being a present, loving motherly figure to our own inner child and regularly checking in with her, we can heal and release the blockages and illusions of brokenness or estrangement from the mother energy that are holding us back and keeping us small, afraid or powerless.
Being the internal mom that we need is deeply healing and can help us better mother our own children with more consciousness, presence and playfulness.
So how can we develop a more nurturing relationship with our inner child? Here are some ideas and exercises to help you take steps toward building this relationship:
- Ask yourself what you needed from your mother as a child that you didn’t get: (more focused attention, more encouragement, protection of your boundaries, less outward money worry, etc…?) Allow yourself to grieve these things without judgement. Cry about it. Write about it and burn it or bury it to release it back to earth. Yes, you may have had many other great things and relationships in life, but if there’s a very real part of you that feels distraught by these issues then they are obviously important to you and are not stupid or small. Allowing yourself space and acceptance to grieve these perceived losses is the way you can move through and past them and give them closure.
- Put up a picture of yourself as a child and tell her the things you needed to hear when you were little: Obviously you don’t need to go talk to your picture on the fridge out loud for everyone to hear… You can say these things in your head. You can even just save a picture of you in your phone to revisit regularly. The point is to look at your little self and give her the approval, presence and acceptance she needed through encouraging words. Some affirmations you can say to her: I’m so glad you’re in my life! You are brave and kind. You bring so much joy to my life. There is nothing you could do or say to make me not love you. You are so worthy of all of the good things in this life! I have so much fun with you. I am not going anywhere! You are safe. I hear you. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to mess up. I love taking care of you.
- PLAY! Get yourself a toy you loved or always wanted, or sign up for an activity that you always wanted to try. Belly laugh your way through it. Softball and hula-hooping are my current practices… still working on getting that Barbie Dreamhouse. 😉
- Check in with your inner child regularly: Ask, “what do you need today?” The answer will come intuitively. Does she need patience, kindness, rest, fun, information?
- Encourage her to step out of her comfort zones and try new things and be so kind to her each step of the way like you would with your own children or your best friend! A lot of times when we stall or block ourselves from doing things we want to do but are afraid to follow through with, it is because of deeply rooted fear or uncertainty we are holding from childhood. Give your little self the regular, conscious encouragement to squash those limitations and see what doors open for you as a result!
- Find an inner child guided meditation on Youtube that resonates with you and time travel to your littleness. 😉 I was super a apprehensive and fearful about this one but ended up having a pretty amazing experience.
- Pray for her if prayer is your cup of tea. Pray for your inner child the way you pray for your own kids.
- Read books or watch movies that she loved just to reconnect with her: For me, Babysitter’s Club, Judy Blume, Rugrats, Are You Afraid of the Dark? And all the other 90’s kid stuff makes me feel little again. 😍
- See a therapist because you’re finally ready to face some stuff that is too heavy for you to carry all on own, and because therapy can be super helpful and cathartic!
- Google inner child healing and find activities and resources that speak authentically to YOU!
These exercises may seem or feel weird or maybe even scary or painful at first, but mamas, I promise you there are much weirder things in this life than allowing yourself some conscious healing. This is not a process of blaming our mothers for our own shortcomings; rather it is a process of radically accepting and nurturing ourselves in the ways that only we know we need in each moment. In this way, we embody a self love and fullness that ripples out to our children and gives them permission to love and nurture themselves fiercely.
My inner child is a barefoot, flower-crowned, fearless, ghost-hunting, dragon-taming, mermaid, faery, witch, artist, cheesy romantic, starry-eyed alien…and I’m finding that through finally accepting and nurturing this blessed little weirdo in way that I need to be nurtured and going beyond the fears and limitations of my own mother, so much new power is being generated from within.
The more we can allow our own beautiful mother energy to carry and uplift us, the more pain we will transmute instead of perpetuate.
What does your beautiful, spunky, magical little inner child need today?