“When a daughter loses a mother, the intervals between grief responses lengthen over time, but her longing never disappears.”
Hope Edelman “Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope”
Yesterday, we explored the idea of how Self-Care may take on a different meaning when you have lost your mother. I shared how the actual physical loss, my mother’s death, when I was 15, removed the feeling of unconditional love in my life and for years I was angry and search for ways to replace it. Truth told, it can not. It is one of the sad realities of losing a mother – whether you lose her to illness, old age, disease, addiction, neglect or abandonment. For many, we spend much of our life looking for others or things to fill that loss. Self-Care is discussed in many circles, especially in relation to women. While I agree self-care in the area of rest, nutrition and exercise are important, this other level of self-care I am referring to is healing, integration, acceptance and the identification of how you, and only you, (not your friends, spouse, children…) can become the river of unconditional love to yourself – the ultimate self-care. If you can love yourself that deeply, all other aspects of your life will begin to flow.
I shared that the most powerful and meaningful gift you can give yourself to nurturing & healing your past is good therapy. I will leave that there. Good therapy and consistent inward looking is key.
I also find there are other practices that help me mother myself, or supply me with some unconditional loving. First, surround yourself with wise, loving female mentors along your journey. Pay attention…they are there. I thank my mother for always making sure these strong females have been and continue to be carefully placed in my life at different stages. Since her death, I have like my own Mother Jedi Council.
Who is on your council?
Ann Waye – Jedi of Love. Ann was my best friend’s mother. She taught me what family can look like – connected, joyful. She put her children before everything and had a gift for being engaged in the life of her kids without judgement. Because of this, her kids told her everything! Maybe TMI at times (lol), but she listened and she really knew her children. She took me in, like a little orphan, right after my mother died and let me stay there. After high school, she let me bring my stuff to store, loved me. Now as an adult, I know what an inconvenience I must have been – I ate her food, slept in her house, stored my things, never paid rent, came and left as I wished and she never made me feel unwanted. Such a blessing. She gave me a ‘safe place’ while I figured out where was I going after high school and college.
Darwin Prioleau – Jedi of Power & Dreams. Darwin was the Dean of the Dance Department where I went for undergraduate studies. (How I went to college is kind of a funny story for another time). I was and eventually graduated with a BSN in Science and Nursing. While there, I fell in love with the dance department and worked on a minor in dance. Darwin was this amazingly talented, wise, intimidating dance figure that had a Maya Angelou presence. I (like many) were in awe of her, and like children with their parents, I wanted nothing more than to please her and receive her praise. One day, in my dance journal she left me a note that said “please make an appointment to see me.” When I nervously walked in to her office and took a seat, I really didn’t know what she was going to say. But, she started with a question… “Vickie, what do you want?” What do YOU want…I never thought about that…I was too busy surviving…this question is THE question, “What do I want…” The other mother/mentor feeling I remember is that she believed in me. She told me that she knew I could make it in the dance world if I desired. That confidence in me was powerful.
Rachel Graham – Jedi of Steadfast Unconditional Love. I call her my ‘mothersisterfriend’ because she is all those things. She is a mother’s heart. She instantly understood my deepest, most saddest, vulnerable parts of me and could handle it. Not only handle it, she is one of those rare people that actually can and will lean into ‘the yucky’ and hold your hand. She showed me that life is not pretty, easy or always turns out the way you plan, but what matters is the people you love. You love them fiercely.
Toni DeAngelo – Jedi of Pixie Dust. She is my Italian dream mom. She showed me that humor, laughter and being present matters. She is a sprinkler of magic fairy dust wherever she goes. Toni is like the delicious spices you add to a meal. She was my first nursing mentor who shares her knowledge to make you better and helps you remember life is fun! She has transitioned from my nursing mentor to a lifelong mentor.
Shelley Takei – Jedi of No Limits. Shelley is my mother-in-law and I am beyond grateful for her presence in my life. From the first day I met her, I felt accepted and welcome to her family. She possesses that wild woman energy that says “do it!” – “go for it” and always encourages your thoughts, dreams and decisions. She is an embody of challenging the status quo. Although she can not be or replace my mom, she has been a steady, loving, motherly presence in my life for almost 27 years.
Judy Maji – Jedi of truth. Judy is my stepmother and has always respected the boundary of her role. She has spoken to me and understands that my mom was ‘my mom’ and she could never replace her. I appreciate that wisdom. She is a rock. She has shown me what it means to always ‘be there’. She has shown me that you don’t turn your back when family disappoints and when you are needed you ‘step up’. She speaks words of encouragement to me and they really fulfill a need for praise and validation. She doesn’t lie, she is a straight shooter so I trust what she shares with me.
Rivka Moskow From – Jedi of the Soul. Rivka is my spiritual and life coach. She is the like Jedi Council Superior for me – my Yoda. She is an aware and loving soul with the gifts and talent to help anyone become whom they were meant to be. She comes from love and understanding. She speaks directly to the soul and does not symptom manage, but goes deep. Very deep. She holds you accountable to yourself and is my personal definition of true Self-Care.
Julie Bogart – Jedi of Home & Connection. Julie is like the youngest, coolest most wise grandmother like presence. She provides experiential wisdom in the most important areas of self-care and raising an intact family. Although her business is supporting homeschoolers with online literature and writing courses, she truly is a mother’s dream coach – she empowers you with her knowledge & enthusiasm. She knows the bottom lines and is not afraid to ‘go there’. She has changed my life. She has changed my families life. She has been the number one motherly figure in my life that doesn’t just say, “Sure swim upstream!” she like screams “Grab a life paddle, flippers, snorkel and don’t just swim upstream, JUMP in and swim any direction you wish!”
Spring is a perfect time we are naturally inclined to bloom.
All these beautiful women – embodying all the different aspects of a mother – knowledge, wisdom, truth, insight, accountability, empowerment, love, laughter, steadfastness, commitment, trust, spiritual connection…brought to me just at the right time, blessings. Our mothers may be gone, but through the special people that are sprinkled into our lives – some for a reason and some for a season – we can weave a quilt of unconditional motherly love.
Wow. I didn’t plan on going this route with this entry! I had initially just meant to say “surround yourself with mentors”…but I let the muse flutter where she wished. This is actually not my list of other things I do to self-care for my self at all! I guess that means a Part 3! Until then…