We don’t get to choose our mothers. That would make everything so much easier. Or would it? There’s no such thing as a perfect mother. We may wish our mothers were in some way different, but that’s a waste of energy. The truth is, any mother we would have had would’ve left us with a lifetime of issues to sort through. On the flip side, those very struggles become the source of our greatest strengths. Bitch and moan all you want about your mom’s shortcomings, but you’ve got to love her because she’s made you the person you are today.
In honor of Mother’s Day, let’s take a moment to be grateful for all the mother material we have to talk about in therapy.
1. The all up in your business mother.
Description: She was all up in your biz all the time — what you ate for lunch, who you talked to at lunch, what you wrote about lunch in your private diary (which she went through your drawers and read). She had an opinion on what you should do and how you should do it all the time: HER WAY! This was her way of showing she cared, even if it felt overbearing.
Your Issues: Because of all this attention which was unwanted at times, you need lots of privacy and alone time. Freedom and independence are as essential to you as oxygen. You freak out when anyone tries to get you under their thumb and you’ll always find a way to wriggle free.
Your Strengths: You got a lot of attention growing up, so you’re not looking for any from the world. You’re self-assured, confident and you don’t need anyone’s approval about anything.
2. The badass, working mother.
Description: Your mother rocked a power suit and owned a cell phone when they were the size of sledge hammers. She had to drop you off early at school nearly every day because she had an important meeting. And after school, you walked home, made yourself a snack, did your homework and sometimes, put yourself to bed.
Your Issues: You heard the words, “Hold on one moment, mom has a conference call” so many times that it’s like a broken record in your brain. This is the same record that always makes you feel like you should be as badass as your mom and makes you wonder why you aren’t.
Your Strengths: You had a strong role model that showed you that women can have both a family and a career. Once you finally find the way in which you’re a badass (probably in a different way than your mother) there will be absolutely no stopping you.
3. The rebel mother who prides herself on being unconventional.
Description: Conventional was a dirty word in your house. When all the other kids brought ham sandwiches for lunch you were eating seitan wraps and wheatgrass. When all the other kids were wearing Guess jeans, you showed up to school in a pair of hemp pants. When all the other kids signed up for jazz dance class, your mom hired a yogi to teach you to play the harmonium.
Your Issues: While you appreciate your exposure to all these different things, you long to fit in occasionally. You feel guilty shopping at the mall or watching reality TV or having fiscally conservative views because you know your mom would be devastated that you turned out to be such a conformist.
Your Strengths: Even if you have chosen a more “normal” path in life, it wasn’t an arbitrary choice by any means. You are a free thinker to the core and you examine your choices in life thoroughly before making them. Your loved ones can always count on you to have an opinion, whether they like it or not.
4. The hands-off mother who let you make your own mistakes.
Description: She was so booked running from her tennis lessons to her volunteer sessions at the local food bank to her martini nights that she didn’t really have time to make it to your dance recital.
Your Issues: Even though your mom meant the best, you found yourself often feeling unimportant and unseen.
Your Strengths: You’re flexible, you have low expectations of people, and you’re never gonna throw a shit fit when things don’t go your way. You know how to fend for yourself in any situation.
5. The best friend mom.
Description: When you and your friends needed a place to party in high school, she hosted, bought the beers and even attended the party. She talked to you about everything (even stuff you didn’t really want or need to know), but she offered little guidance in the way of kicking your ass in gear when you were slacking off.
Your Issues: You need structure like a tooth needs paste. No one ever told you what to do. You gorged on freedom and now what your life craves is discipline.
Your Strengths: Because your mom was so permissive, you had no need to rebel in the way most kids do. You’re incredibly mature and you always make good decisions. Your friends (and your mother) can rely on you to be the most level-headed person in the room.
6. The scatterbrained mom.
Description: You were always the last kid to get picked up from soccer practice because your mom was physically incapable of arriving anywhere on time. Sometimes she even forgot where you were and was waiting for you at piano lessons when you were on the other side of town at karate. Your lunches were left at home, your field trip permission slips were always late and you rarely had matching socks. But man, was she a lot of fun to be around.
Your Issues: Chaos makes you feel wonky because you experienced so much of it. You run your life with Swiss watch precision just to avoid it. Spontaneity? You don’t know the meaning of the word.
Your Strengths: Your sense of time, your ability to plan and your follow-through is unparalleled. Whatever you do in life, rest assured knowing that your type will always be in high demand.
7. The likes everything to be perfect mother.
Description: Your bed had to be made every day with hospital corners, your dress had to be ironed, your hair had to be done and you always had to behave properly in public. If you embarrassed your mother in front of anyone, you’d never hear the end of it.
Your Issues: You’ve internalized these standards of perfection and are supercritical of yourself to the point where you give yourself ulcers over writing a thank you note.
Your Strengths: You’re a driven, overachiever who pushes herself to greatness. Reliable is your middle name. And you have your mother to thank for that.
8. The Mama Rose.
Description: Whatever your talent was, your mother supported it wholeheartedly — to the point that she regarded it as her talent. She took being your pageant coach, the momager of your singing career or your sports agent just a little bit too seriously at times.
Your Issues: You know deep down that your stage mother just wanted you to be a success, but being a professional show pony as a child has made you an anxious mess who’s afraid of failure.
Your Strengths: Duh. You’re extremely talented. There’s a reason your mom wanted to take 15 percent. Once you learn to channel your unique gifts and talents on your own terms — that is, without mom — you may not be a star, but you’ll be truly successful in the way that you always dreamed of.