Motherhood: The Truth is too Tough to Tell

“You thought parenting would be so much easier than this. If it’s this stormy between the two of you now, how will you possibly have the loving, affectionate relationship with your daughter that you’d always imagined?”

If you, like me, have faced some scary, heart-wrenching challenges as a mother, it won’t surprise you to learn that relatively few women choose to write to their younger selves about those painful moments. It cuts too close to the bone. Too embarrassing to reveal our flaws, in this, our most crucial role. Too scary to show an ugly side of our children. And also, the truth of what you felt is probably something you’d rather your child never read.

If there were a Darkside Facebook, however, my guess is you’d see plenty of posts by incredulous parents learning about anger, hurt, drugs, sexual fads, legal quagmires and more at the hands of their children.

I thought about these silent passages—and the wisdom that does not usually get passed along—because I recently co-created two letters-to-younger-selves with women at different organizations, both on some of motherhood’s tough moments.

She survived parenthood! Marie today, with daughter and grandaughter.

She survived parenthood! Marie today, with daughter and grandaughter.

One letter (quoted above) was shared by Marie Ziegler, VP and Deputy Financial Officer for Deere & Company, during my keynote presentation at The PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in July. (read more about the Tour’s Executive Women’s Day) If you have a headstrong, independent and determined child, you’ll love reading her letter and gaining from what she learned.

The other letter is by Susan Gasser, Director of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel, Switzerland, as part of a series of letters I worked on for Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research. The situation she addresses in her letter prompts me to paraphrase Madeleine Albright by saying there is a special place in hell for mothers who don’t help other mothers. Susan’s letter isn’t bitter, however ,and her message is incredibly poignant. Take a look.