Listening to Your “Inner Mom”
On Sunday, September 13th, I was watching our daughter, and new mom, Erin, mothering her firstborn, eighteen-month-old Johnny, when an “ah-ha” moment took over my mind with the phrase: “Listen to your inner mom.”
That’s it! That one simple sentence sums up the long-term effects and investment of mothering – and fathering. I kept dwelling on that phrase as I watched the mother-toddler interaction throughout the day.
Toddler Johnny impulsively starts to climb the stairs. Mom watches, yes very closely. Her instinct is two-fold: let him climb, but carefully. Johnny climbs while mom is inches behind him ready and programmed to catch him if he starts to fall. Instinctively, Johnny feels the vibes: “Mom believes in me to take this challenge one step at a time – and to reach the top.”
The stair-climbing story gets even more “inner.” Johnny feels: “Mom’s got my back!” When you hear a trusted person, say your financial advisor, reassure you: “Don’t worry, I’ve got your back” you’ll reflect back to when your mom cheered you on while you climbed the stairs: “Don’t worry, Johnny, I’ve got your back…put your energy into reaching the top and don’t waste energy worrying about the “what-ifs”.
Recognizing your “Inner Mom”
“That’s what my mom always said!” How many times have you said and felt this replay when life’s stuff happens? Your wise mother’s voice in your head helps you turn this stuff into an opportunity for personal growth.
“Mommy brain” becomes rooted in your brain. When your mom grew you inside her body she was also growing a center in her brain, an automatic GPS or “mommy brain app,” that instinctively prompted her to help you thrive – a nice word meaning to be the best you can be.
“But, mom….” Yes, during teenhood they may question, rebel, and discount this inner mom belief, but it’s there, rooted (some deeper than others) in your brain, and ready to be revealed later, especially when you become a mom.
When I was, shall we say, in transition (a nice way to cloak “rebellious”) I wanted to go to the “fun school” like some of my friends. Even back then, 65 years ago, go-along-to-get-along was the terrible teen feeling that infected us. Enter my inner mom. Mom said, “No Billie, you will go to Marquette High – and you will get a good job this summer to earn the full tuition.”
I replay that mom wisdom weekly, as my mom planted roots that nearly 70 years later are still flourishing. Mom passed on, or better “up,” but her
inner mom will live in me forever. Thoughts, words, and deed are right or wrong, not “relative,” as modern “free thinkers” (aka do what you feel is right or wrong) believe.
No Such Thing as “Perfect”
My childhood without an “inner dad” needed more of an inner mom. I grew up in a financially poor but emotionally rich home, the only child of a single mom (my dad exited when I was still a newborn). Instinctively, my mom knew she couldn’t personally give me all the inner dad tools, so she wisely and selectively farmed out this task by surrounding me with quality male mentors. My mom did the best she could in a less-than-ideal situation. No, she was not a perfect mom, but neither was her child “perfect.” I don’t dwell on what she may have done wrong. I dwell on what she did right. Thank you, Mom!
Periodically ponder what inner mom voice you want to reside in your kids.
I’m watching and reflecting on the inner mom interaction between Erin and Johnny: eye-to-eye, cheek-to-breast, face-time and touch-time; and listening to those gentle guidance protectives “Not for Johnny…” Her GPS predominates while his is still growing and maturing.
Dr. Sears, or Dr. Bill as his “little patients” call him, has been advising busy parents on how to raise healthier families for over 40 years. He received his medical training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the world’s largest children’s hospital, where he was associate ward chief of the newborn intensive care unit before serving as the chief of pediatrics at Toronto Western Hospital, a teaching hospital of the University of Toronto. He has served as a professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, University of South Carolina, University of Southern California School of Medicine, and University of California: Irvine. As a father of 8 children, he coached Little League sports for 20 years, and together with his wife Martha has written more than 40 best-selling books and countless articles on nutrition, parenting, and healthy aging. He serves as a health consultant for magazines, TV, radio and other media, and his AskDrSears.com website is one of the most popular health and parenting sites. Dr. Sears has appeared on over 100 television programs, including 20/20, Good Morning America, Oprah, Today, The View, and Dr. Phil, and was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in May 2012. He is noted for his science-made-simple-and-fun approach to family health.