Note: This is the second of a two-part series. Click here for part one
Here are a series of questions designed to assist you in evaluating how you feel about your mother. These questions come courtesy of Jasmin Lee Cori in her book The Emotionally Absent Mother (The Experiment Publications). Even if your mother is no longer alive, you may find these questions helpful in clarifying your feelings about her, and about your upbringing:
Do you feel pride about being your mother’s child? Did you want to be like your mother—or did you want to be as different as possible?
If someone said “You are so much like your mother,” how would you feel about that?
Was your mother’s womb an inviting place? What did/does it feel like to be enveloped in your mother’s energy?
How connected do you feel to your mother, on a scale from 1 to 10? How has this changed throughout your life?
What are your early memories around physical contact with your mother? Was she your jungle gym or was there more the feeling of “Keep Out?”
As a child, did you feel you were a part of your family? Did you feel bonded or more emotionally adrift? Have you had feelings of being an orphan or a motherless child?
How did your mother respond to you as an infant or small child? A telltale clue about how your mother responded to you is how you feel about your own needs now. Are you respectful and attentive to your needs now, or do you hide them, or are you demanding? How you respond to your own needs most often parallels how your mother responded to them.
How did your mother tend to respond to other people’s needs? Was she attentive? Resentful? Competent? Gracious? Did people need to ask multiple times?
Do you remember times when your mother provided reassurance or comfort when you were in distress? Did she help you through the hard times? How available was she?
How many other children was she also caring for?
How attentive was she?
Was she depressed or absorbed elsewhere?
Did your mother regulate her own emotions and keep them in a moderate range?
Was she good at tending to her own needs?
Was your mother good at tuning in to your emotional states? At verbally reflecting back your states? Did she seem to care about them?
Did she teach you how to constructively manage emotions without simply suppressing them? Did she model healthy expression of emotions?
As a child, did you feel loved by your mother? Was she able to show it, or was she limited being able to love or in showing love?
On a scale of 1 through 10, how nurturing was she to you? To others?
Do you feel that your mother saw the real you? Did she know you well enough to serve as a compass, recognizing when you were not being true to yourself?
What did your mother communicate nonverbally through her facial expressions, her tone of voice and choice of words, with how patient she was, how friendly she was and with how present she was?
Do you believe that your mother had confidence in you?
Can you think of a time when you needed more encouragement for something? What would you have liked to hear?
In what areas was your mother most engaged in mentoring you? Where did you need more help than you got? What attitudes were communicated through her help? (For example, that you were a bother, that she treasured you and wanted to help, that you could need assistance and still be deserving of respect, that you were a slow learner, that she enjoyed being a mother.)
Can you identify the ways she protected you? Did her way of protecting you feel caring? Comforting? Suffocating?
Which ways did she not protect you?
Did she teach you about protecting yourself effectively? What do you wish she had taught you about self-protection that she did not?
Is Mother where you turn(ed) for comfort and refueling? If not, do you think she would be there if you did? Do you remember her being there for you?