Google+ Authentic Parenting: Transitioning from Daughter to Mother

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Transitioning from Daughter to Mother

written by Liza

When you become a mother you stop being a child. Paradoxically you will always be your parents baby. So in the transition from a child to an adult that is responsible for their own children, where do your parents fit in? In some cultures the minute a woman's grandchild is born, they become grandmother and will be referred to as "grandmother" by everyone including their own children from that moment forward. I imagine this would help ease the transition, and that by accepting the title the new grandparent is accepting the roles and responsibilities befitting the name. Thus, the new mother is free to take on her role as "mother" in establishing her own home and family life (possibly in a distinctly different way to the household she grew up in).

However, in Western culture the fear of death, old age and being sent to a nursing home, makes the title of "grandmother" (or "grandfather") a somewhat less appealing role to take on. Children grow up so fast and for new grandparents the realization that their baby is in fact an adult can be a particularly shocking and abrupt reminder of how quickly the time has passed. In an attempt to hold onto the past and perhaps make right some of their perceived wrong doings, a new grandparent may cling to the hope of a second chance like a life raft. This may result in one of two situations or a mixture of both. Firstly, they may want to control the parenting decisions for their grandchild in an attempt to use the new baby as an avenue for their own mothering. Or secondly, they deny the fact that their child has grown up and focus their attention on mothering the new mother as if she were still a child.

As a new mother I have found it very challenging to navigate my way from "daughter" to "mother". As a child I learnt that if I was going to accept my parent's help, I would need to accept it on their terms. As an adult I have found it hard to stick to my decisions when the people I am used to acquiescing to (my own parents) don't agree with them. It is this hesitation and indecision that has been toxic for me. However, as hard it has been (and yes their have been many tears at the dinner table in the process) the realization that my decisions are the right decisions for my family have been uplifting. I have had to accept that I will never be the "perfect mother" and that some of the decisions I make will have negative consequences (and may even illicit a few "I told you so's" from lookers on) but this is ok, in fact it is more than ok. All I want is to be a good role model for my beautiful boy and I look forward to teaching him by example that making mistakes is part of the learning process and when we make one we bravely admit it, make it better to the best of our ability, apologise (without beating ourselves up) and move on.

What challenges have you faced in becoming a new mother, father, grandmother or grandfather? What has helped you navigate your way through the transition?

About the author

Liza is a breastfeeding, bed sharing, baby-wearing, sometimes baking mum to 1-year-old Finn. She has a Degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate Degree in Primary Teaching with Honours in Special Needs Education. She writes Pramsandwich, where she shares her everyday adventures with Finn, discovering new foods, enjoying playtime and reflecting on the special moments that make gentle parenting such a joy.


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4 comments:

  1. I'm finding it difficult to fit my mother into either category, because she definitely has exhibited both types of behavior. We"re in a special situation because we are temporarily living with them (have been since my last month of pregnancy and baby is now 5 months old) while our house sells. So my mom has been there literally every day, in many of those hours, as I transitioned to mother. Some days it felt like she was overwhelming me with her help and desire to take care of Penny whole I rested, and I felt like the milk maid. But wanted her to have the joy of being there for her granddaughter... In the end there wasn't a whole lot of disagreement or frustration, I am blessed for all the help, but as a first time mama it was difficult feeling like I needed to defer to her choices, such as when to put baby down for a nap or if a paci is the correct choice.

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  2. The more I read and hear from friends about their relationships with their mothers the more I realise that I have a special bond with mine. I did not feel that I stopped being a child when I became a mother. My own relationship with my mother did not change at all at this point in my life. It changed over the years since leaving home to become one of mutual respect, one where we were and still asking each other for advice, opinions and looking for support. My mother is my safe haven to retreat to in my time of need, she only gives advice when it is asked for and it always right. I value every day whilst she is alive and speak regularly on the phone and spend as much time with her during the year as I can. It has made my transition to motherhood very easy.

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    1. Thank you for this comment sustainable mum. It is wonderful to hear that your transition to motherhood has gone so smoothly. The bond we share with our mothers is so precious isn't it.

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  3. Hi Bianca, it sounds like your situation has been both challenging and special at the same time, how nice to hear that you have been able to navigate the transition so well and benefit from the help of your mother. Thanks for sharing!

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