In the 1979 film, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Meryl Streep plays a wife and mother who wants out of her marriage badly enough to leave not only her husband but her young child as well. Months later, after the husband has soldiered through the crisis on his own, Streep decides that she misses the child and wants to be with him. Following a fierce custody battle, which she wins, she changes her mind and gives him back.
Upon leaving the theater a woman was heard to remark, loud and clear, “What I want to know is where was his mother???”
Indeed, more mothers than you might think, are just not there in mind, emotion or spirit, and sometimes not even in body. They lack, have never had, and probably never will have, the Mothering Gene, or possess a stunted one at best. If there are studies of this psycho-genetic weakness I haven’t seen them, but there should be. It might save many children of such mothers and even these un-motherly mothers themselves much pain and suffering in their relationships.
I spoke with three people, yesterday alone, about the “Mothering Gene” and the lack thereof in their mothers. All are women over 50 and still feel the deprivation and the loss − still yearn for the closeness they never had. The mother is the core, the soul of the family. When your mother’s heart isn’t in it, you feel it from the beginning and believe there’s something missing within yourself, often for the rest of your life. But, what’s missing has nothing to do with you. And there’s nothing you can do to change who your mother is or was ─ and no need to make yourself “better” to please someone who can never be pleased by anything or anyone beside herself.
I call this the LOMOG (Lack Of the Mothering Gene) Syndrome. A syndrome that manifests differently for sons and daughters. For while daughters blame themselves, and keep trying to prove themselves worthy of their mother’s love, sons can fail to launch, emotionally and otherwise, and behave in some pretty messed up ways.
There are books written by so called experts about parenting, but none of us is truly prepared for motherhood, just as none of us is is prepared for childhood either! It’s all Learn As You Go. And some of us are better at it than others. My sister once told me about a friend of hers whose mother dropped her and her brother off at the neighborhood movie theater on a Saturday afternoon for a double feature. They were eight at the time. When the movie was over the mother didn’t return. Just left them there and disappeared from their lives forever. Although she didn’t physically murder them, what she did was lethal, and left them with the scars of abandonment for the rest of their lives.
Mothers rarely act out like this but on interior levels LOMOGs disappear just as surely, and without a second glance. They birth the child. Meet its practical needs. And that’s it. The child is left to pull itself up by its own bootie straps.
I used to play tennis with a woman who had eight children between the ages of 10 and 30. Mine at the time were 11 and 15. As she kept lobbing the ball at me she praised my mothering skills and told me I should have more kids. Perhaps she knew something I didn’t. Two were all I could handle. But, her 27 year old son, who was my tennis teacher, confided that she was not a particularly giving or loving mother. It seems numbers mean nothing.
If you’re a child of a LOMOG, forget about those accounts receivable (i.e., the resentments you hold and harbor). They can never be paid. The un-motherly mother hasn’t the capacity, the heart, or the psycho-genetic wherewithal to pay them. And by holding onto them they morph into stuff you don’t want or need that hurts mostly you while the LOMOG goes on her way, not even slightly aware that she has missed out on one of life’s most amazing experiences.
Yet it’s hard to detach from the un-motherly mother because the attachment (the loving bond, the closeness) was never truly formed. So how can you let go of something that you never had to begin with? The only way I know of to move on and heal is to embrace yourself, your life, and the people, in it — to love with an unguarded heart and to appreciate yourself as you are. The following imagery is intended to help you do just that. Use it for 21 days and see what happens.
Two of you
Close your eyes and breathe out through your mouth one time. Now, imagine there are two of you. And that one of you is sitting on your own lap. And that you are hugging yourself. And you are holding your face in your hands. See how it feels to give yourself all the love and support that you want and need. Then breathe out slowly, and open your eyes knowing that all is well.
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