When you're a mom suddenly estranged by your young adult child, it shakes your identity big-time. Not long ago you had this same person living in your house, eating with you, communicating with you. You were the mom. Now you are without contact, estranged.
It's a tough pill to swallow, having your child walk away.
It can make you question everything you thought you knew about life. And about yourself.
I'm pretty sure I've replayed every memory possible to analyze myself as mom to my now-estranged daughter. I looked for where I went wrong. I'm guessing maybe you've done the same.
When I spoke about this with a therapist she insisted that I "did nothing wrong." Which is nice. I suppose she thought I was beating myself up with guilt. I get moms do that, and I agree that it's totally unproductive. What I really wanted was to improve.
I wanted to learn to be a better mom, a better human. There's always room for that, right?
So I found a few things. Nothing to warrant estrangement - well, in my opinion, obviously not one shared by my daughter. Looking back I could see where I had been too critical, pressured her to be the way I wanted her to be, judged her choices, put my own anxiety on her.
And I thought about how I'd want things to be different about me, should my daughter return.
After all, I am the only part of this estrangement that I have any control over.
Part of working on my self-improvement led me to think about my friends. Why I love them. Why I choose to spend time with them. What makes our relationship easy, irreplaceable, appreciated.
Here's my list - I suggest you create your own! The friends I treasure are:
fun and light-hearted
accepting - without judgement
encouraging and supportive
available when needed
see the best in me in spite of my flaws
believe in me and what I'm capable of
laugh at my jokes 😊
I'm sure there's more, but these are the main attributes that make being friends, for me, so easy. It's impossible to think that these friendships wouldn't last or be seen as valuable.
And in looking at my friend relationships, I can see how I failed my daughter at times as she became an adult. Our relationship could have evolved into more of a mom-daughter friendship. I can now see my part in making that a challenge.
Hindsight is 20/20. Cliche but true. I know that I was a good mom in spite of my failings. And of course friends are different than families/parents and kids. So I don't look at this list to shame myself, but to have clarity to improve myself as I grow and move forward.
I'm a firm believer that painful experiences provide the most meaningful lessons. And that people in our lives serve as our best teachers.
Also cliche, I know. But I now know how I want to show up in the world, something I didn't really give much thought to pre-estrangement. Something that will serve me from now on.
And should my daughter want to try again one day, I'll be ready.
Think of your friends, or family, or people you've known. What made them easy, or difficult, to be around? Can you take that information to apply to yourself as you grow and move forward?
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Live forward with clarity and determination, sweet mamas!