From my heart to yours…lessons in celebrating yourself this Mother’s Day

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe, deserve your love and affection.”–Buddha

Indulging Sunday in a decadent, chocolate turtle ice cream cone following a five-mile walk with my lapdog, I celebrated feeling content in the company of my own being.

(Photo by Beth Scanzani)

Years ago, living in the abandonment wound of being an un-mothered child, I would have been terrified or shamed by such aloneness.  To avoid the pain of feeling unsafe or unprotected, I stayed frantically busy, reached to friends and droned on endlessly about being scared, or settled for less-than-satisfying friendships or relationships simply to have company.

That wound of excruciating loneliness was seething, particularly during life events like a high school or college graduation, the open house celebration of my public relations business, the birth of my children, my first book publishing party, and nearly every Mother’s Day.  I wanted the mother hug, hand of support in entertaining or nod of approval for an accomplishment well done.  Instead, I feigned happiness, and continued overcompensating, looking for the approval, acknowledgment and nurturance from others that I craved from my mother.  Often, I gave people I hardly knew the kindness and care I so badly wanted to receive.

Even in simple every day moments, like after dental surgery, I longed for the nurturance of someone bringing  me a chocolate frappe so I could drink through a straw as my gums healed.

It took me years to understand that the only way to get the unconditional love I –and every child deserves- was to give it to myself.  I was also blessed to be continually surrounded by women friends who consistently came through for me either by checking in, helping with a physical task I was not taught how to do (although I still dream of dating a man who can cook),  or sharing in womanly knowledge about matters of the heart.

I also learned my own lessons through acknowledging, appreciating and validating my gifts—one of which is the intuitive wisdom I gained by consistently going within for support and guidance.  I have been able to offer great insights to those I counsel or care about as a result of the strong inner core I developed.

With love and compassion, this Mother’s Day, I lay to rest the arduous 30-year journey of healing abandonment.  In its place, I accept I am a woman who has vulnerabilities which are human, that make me who I am.

Part of me is a teacher, whose legacy is to share with others the lessons learned as an un-mothered child.  Here are a few of them:

  • Be there for yourself.  Children can be abandoned; adults cannot.  You have the skills to find the resources to get your needs met.  Allow yourself to be seen and heard.  Be there for your children; your presence means more than any object you can buy.
  • Genuine intimacy requires both physical connection and emotional availability.  Do not settle based on earlier conditioning where your basic needs were not met.  Choose to align with a mate who is brave and generous enough to share on both levels, and can come to the plate to resolve conflict and own his share of responsibility in creating a healthy relationship.  Those who retreat or withdraw are not strong enough for us.  We no longer have to do it all by ourselves, carrying the weight for another by being super-responsible.  True love is courageous and worth the risk.
  • Acquire the skill of self-soothing before reaching incessantly to others.  It is okay to need and want another’s attention or support.  Just be sure you can ask for it in proper balance.
  • Pause and center in yourself to discern which people and opportunities are best suited for you rather than get seduced by the temporary relief of instant gratification.
  • Believe in and practice reciprocity.  You deserve to give and receive love and support from friends, partners and even those in business relationships.
  • Loosen up and have some fun.  Healing tough childhoods was a second full-time job for many of us.  Let go and be silly every now and then, knowing in your spontaneity comes great joy.
  • Delegate responsibility; become a follower versus a leader sometimes.  The independence you gained from growing yourself up solo was exhausting work.  Allow yourself to lean on and learn from others occasionally.

And for all those I know—clients, readers, friends, and others’ children—who also were not loved in healthy, basic ways during their formative years, I honor you this Mother’s Day, with gentle acceptance and respect as well.  Go celebrate yourself as a person worth nurturing.

“One of the great gifts of the unmothered child – and also the healer, and the writer and the musician and all those in the arts who live so close with their ear against the heartbeat of the archetypal unconscious – one of their strongest aspects is intuition….Be proud of your scars. They have everything to do with your strength, and what you’ve endured. They’re a treasure map to the deep self.”—Clarissa Pinkola Estes, from Warming the Stone Child.


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  • Deb says:

    Thank you for such a loving gift this Mother’s Day, Gail. I will be taking all of your wisdom to heart.

  • Beth Shedd says:

    Gail, although I am blessed with still having my mother, I have faced many dark days, weeks and months in my life when her love was not enough for me, and so I have learned that so much of what women do well in life is nurture each other. Your message of “reciprocity” is so true and I agree that we all gain from giving and receiving love. Sometimes it is hardest to receive it and to allow others to care for the soft spots we hold deeply. Your message is so poignant on mother’s day and every day – we should love ourselves and celebrate ourselves as if EVERY day is Mother’s Day! Thank you for your message and “permission” for us to love ourselves and each other. Bravo!

  • Sarah says:

    It’s so tough growing up and working through our baggage. Then we have to be moms and hopefully not damage our kids. Well said Gail.

  • Ava says:

    “Gail…thank you so much for the generous ways in which you bared your soul to help all of us women learn to nurture ourselves so we can better serve those we care about. Your writing is amazing. You really touch the soul (and heart) of humanity.”

  • Flo says:


  • Lisa Pearce says:

    As a finish reading your Mother’s Day post, I realize that I too have long strived for support and acknowledement from those incapable. I am slowly starting to understand that true inner love and peace can only be achieved when I accept myself, love myself, and stop enabling others to bring me down. I work so hard. I love even harder. You words soothe me Gail. They remind me how important I am to myself, my needs, my desires. I look forward to your next blog. Kindest Regards…………..Lisa

  • Melissa says:

    Wow, I need a few minutes to recover. Your lessons are so helpful; I have printed them out and will post them on my office wall. Having you as a coach would help anyone to heal. I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day.

  • Gail,your blog about your insights relating to Moather’s Day was incredible… and very different from myself or likely most typical mothers who grew up in loving households. It gave me a different perspective, thank you! I still marvel at your gift of self-expression, even though I’ve benefitted directly from your coaching skills and ability to understand others and guide them back to self-love and elimination of limiting beliefs. Happy Mother’s Day ……….. Love, Barb

  • Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the issue resolved soon. Kudos

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