Capturing Your Mother’s Story – Part I

By Val Boyko • May 16th, 2011

group of young women 1950sOne of the most powerful steps we can take to improve our mother relationship is to get to know our mother as a human being.

Who is the woman who is your mother? She was your mother, a sister, your grandmother’s daughter, a friend, a neighbor and more.  She had a childhood and a life before you were even thought of, and a life that did not revolve soley around you when you were around and dependent on her. When you left home her life probably changed and  took on a new meaning for her.

Patricia Commins in her book “Remembering Mother, Finding Myself” takes on the challenge of getting to know her mother more fully, after she had died.

I really enjoy Patricia’s approach. She calls it being on the Path of Understanding. On this path we reach out to others to fill in the missing pieces of our mother-woman portrait. To do so we  must listen with a curious mind and an open heart. Each piece of information is like a brush stroke on a portrait.

This approach is one that we can also use if our mother isn’t available to us, for whatever reason.

There are 3 groups of people that we can approach:

  • Our immediate family. What was your brother or sister’s experience of her? What memories and stories do those in the family recall?
  • Our mother’s friends and peers, especially those who knew her before she had children. What was she like when she was a teenager? What was her relationship with her mother?
  • Our own friends and peers who knew her. They saw our mothers as women at the same time as we experienced them as parents. How did she treat them? What do they remember about her?

As Patricia writes: “This process is not to shatter parental icons or challenge the views we hold about our mothers, Rather, we seek, from a perspective of an adult women on our own journey of self discovery, to know our mothers more fully.”

When we find out more about her we can follow the threads that appear. For example, reading her favorite book or watching her favorite movie. How do they reflect who she was and what her dreams were?

In Part II we’ll look at how you can interview your mother and capture her story directly.

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