Recipe for a Good Enough Mother

d332d2a75db1ef9295660044c7009fcbI became a mother when I was seven years old. An all consuming love happened in an instant, as it does for some new mothers, when my angelic brother, just having been adopted, was brought home at seven days old. When I first saw him, gorgeous as a crescent moon, with blond tiny ringlets, I was seeing God for my first time in the depth of his hazel eyes. From that moment he was mine; loving him as if he had come from my own body.

He was my first lifeline to love, the kind of love that jumps off the page, the “Oh, you’re the reason I’m here” kind, and the ones that hold us afloat; that is for a time, at least.

As far as I can recall, none of the adults in my life ever once remembered to say, “Some people have a thick skin and you don’t. You’re sensitive and this is going to cause you pain, but it’s an appropriate response to this world. The cost is high, but the blessing of being compassionate is beyond your wildest dreams. However, you’re not going to feel that a lot in seventh grade. Just hang on. One day it will all make sense.”

Being the overly sensitive seer in the family was a lonely job; not being seen, even lonelier.

After sitting with clients for almost twenty years, many of them also the seers in their family, I know with out a doubt that most share in common a feeling of not being seen by their family and that this is the great pain they carry. Not just because of the past, but how it also prevents them from connecting to who they truly are in present time.

One of the gifts I received from learning how to swim in the deep waters of not being seen was that I would no longer pretend not to see what was going on. If anyone in my life was behaving badly on any level, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to see, instead of helping people feel better about their less than role model like behavior.

This approach will not win you any popularity contests.

Perhaps some gifts come from feeling the suffering of not being seen and still making an unwavering decision to show up and love. How many of you as children felt truly seen in your essence? From what I can tell, the number is alarmingly low.

Maybe my profound love for my brother, followed by my neice, and finally my own daughter created an imprint, a groove in the brain, as both a personal and professional path for my life. After all, this is what I do for a living. I love people. And the greater access I have to my inner source, the greater capacity to love the ones who come my way.

I remember in Graduate school, a woman failing the final oral exam because she answered that she would “love her patients.” She was told it wasn’t “professional” and that her boundaries were questionable. What a tragedy. It took me almost twenty years to unlearn all the “shoulds and shouldn’ts” that were programmed into me. If they could see me now, they would take my license away.

After years of working with my clients and being a mother to my daughter, I have come to know that it’s all the same thing. Love. Being able to offer it and receive it. And to love another in the simplest possible way means to see someone’s true gifts.

The other night my husband gave a public talk about, “Saving Our Lost Boys,” and what it really looks like to parent and mentor our young boys. He talked about the generations of confused lost boys, unsure how or why they are becoming adults, and how they are really uninspired by the pathways leading out of childhood. He made me think about whether I am living an inpspired enough life that would make a young person look forward to becoming an adult. The jury’s still out on that one. What got me, though was this truth again and again about how these young people have no idea of their own inherent gifts.

Talk about gifts…he had us at hello.

In listening to him, we were in the presence of something great. And not because he’s my husband. You could feel it in the room, his extraordinary breadth of vision; to watch someone so passionate and knowledgable, and trust he has the ability to help shift this epidemic of lost souls, and initiate them in a real and tangible way.

We all have our gifts. It just takes another person to see them sometimes.

His talk about the boys got me thinking about the girls and what it is to mother them. Oh, the lifetimes of pain I’ve witnessed with respect to mothers and their daughters. Jung once said, “The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of the parent.” This has always struck a chord with me, so I have made it a practice to puruse my own life’s calling, so my daughter is free to live in hers.

Meditation, writing, loving others, I’m on my way.

It’s actually the opposite of helicoptor parenting, where the hovering squishes the life force out of child and parent alike.

I am always working at separating out my version of who I think my daughter should be, from who in fact she is, and is becoming. Yes, there are moments when these two very different ways of being in the world clash, like when she wants people in our home all the time, while I would prefer to shapeshift it into a Himalayan cave.

For the most part, I am learning to see and appreciate the one hundred ways she is on a different planet from me. That she has more ‘bold’ moving through her pinkie than I do in my entire body, or that her outspokeness can make me terribly uncomfortable sometimes; but that it’s still possible to celebrate her extraordinary presence; especially if I’ve slept well.

It takes appreciation to be able to see another. When I’m irritated or triggered by the differences, I become blind as a bat.

There are many books and courses that help mothers connect with their daughters more effectively. And believe me, I’ve read my share. But I’m less interested in offering a five step process because, under this layer of “how to’s,” is a capacity within every human to connect to the ways of deep knowing. This is our birthright, to know these ways.

This is what I know. A daughter, no matter what age she is, needs and wants to be seen by her mother (and by the elders in her community), not because she’s a great singer or because she is in the neighborhood play, or because she’s pretty, but because of what she carries in her soul. My mom and I have walked through fire, an initiation in it’s own right, and to finally see one another – well, there’s no greater gift for me.

Add ten liters of love.

A daughter needs her mother to be connected to the meaning and purpose of her own life. This includes her emotions, especially the ones she wants to ignore and deny. In order to connect to your children, you have to be able to connect to yourself first. Take the time to learn how to chill, and know what makes the flames of your ‘being’ lush and juicy. It’s not about being perfect. Life is messy and filled with spice.

Pour in a lot of patience.

Add Aunties to the mix.

Bake it at 350 and serve for a lifetime.

If a mother is stewing her life this way, her own intuition will help her to stay closer to her daughter, and will guide her in setting limits and in knowing when she needs help. Even if a mother wasn’t well mothered herself, or has made some big mistakes, or has gotten off track, it’s built in. When you’re living in the landscape of your own aliveness and emotional truth, it certainly can help your intuition rise to the surface.

This recipe challenges the conventional wisdom that girls need to reject their mother (and father) to become individuals, and that “the experts” (including me) know better than you do about how to raise your children. My daughter’s only nine though. Let me get back to you in a few years. Until then, I’d say I’m a good enough mother.







  1. Read it again and the second time around was even more impressed. Your truth in your writing comes through loud and clear and always has an element that still teaches me.

  2. Hi Carrie, I love reading your posts – and this one in particular moved me to tears. My husband & I went through a long struggle with infertility before finally conceiving our little girl, now almost three years old. She is a blessing in our life and she teaches me every day how to walk courageously towards all the dark and scary feelings of life so that I can enjoy love, so that I can live fully & fearlessly, so that I can unleash my creativity without inhibition, so that I can teach her thee single most important thing there is to know – how to love and trust yourself from the inside out. I am still in the early stages of this 'work', taking baby steps…but those 'glimpses' are enough to show me that I'm doing ok and that I will always be committed to this journey. Thank you so much for this post. Your writing is so beautiful! Much love, xx

    • Carrie Dinow says:

      Thank you Leah. I'm so glad you responded to this piece. I know intimately the pain that accompanies the longing to conceive. Blessings to your little girl and to you for being an awake mama.

  3. I carry a deep sadness in me because I grew up unseen in my family's house. It has taken me into my fifties to really connect to my true nature and to appreciate myself for what I truly am. I am sometimes sad that I do not have any children, but I had to reparent myself and that took a lot. xo

    • Carrie Dinow says:

      Seems to be an epidemic. Bless you and this tribe of unseen humans. I see you, and you're beyond magnificent! Thank God for consciousness.

  4. I am so impressed with your wisdom. It is such a delight to hear from someone who feels the same way as I do about losing her license because of loving her clients. Don't they just cram us full of fears and black and white rules. There has to be guidelines I realize but oh my gosh, aren't they confining for the first few years as a therapist. I remember about a year ago when out of my mouth came; "You are the sensitive one, the feelings member of your family. You have giftings they do not have." It was awesome to hear someone else say this.

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