05/01/2014 05:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Mother's Day Reflection

I recently saw an inspiring video that appears to document the most intense interview in the world for a job that requires 135 hours a week or more, no vacations, degrees in medicine, business, and the culinary arts, to name a few. Sounds crazy, no? The video, called the "world's toughest job," reveals itself to be a prank, one honoring the challenges and heroism of motherhood. Those poor job applicants! They never saw it coming! But in that vein, I was inspired to create a checklist of not mom "duties" but rather the many hats moms wear, the many roles they play in our lives. Have you ever really assessed who your mother is to you besides just "mom"? Let's explore the dynamic here and decode the results, as every mother/child relationship has a lot of emotional weight attached to it.

About My Mom (check all that apply)


Of course, this list can go on and on. Feel free to insert "other" into your list as well! But as you may have noticed -- and possibly even circled -- not all of these roles are flattering ones! It doesn't matter what you circled. It matters what you do with the information. Think of these words as your building blocks. The point is not whether these words are "good" or "bad"; the point is to consider the emotional weight of your relationship. Some of the roles/descriptors on the list are "lighter" or "heavier" than others. What balance or imbalance did you uncover?

For instance, if you circled "care-giver," "supporter," and "number 1 fan" without hesitation, chances are, your relationship with mom is a light one. You're there for each other in positive ways, riding the loving wave of give and take. Even here, in this emotionally light condition, really think about your relationship. What works so well about it? Now think about another relationship in your life -- maybe it's your co-worker, friend, or even your own daughter -- that tends to be a little rockier than yours and your mom's. Write down at least two tools that you and your mom use to have created this emotionally light state and try to apply them with one other person. You might be amazed how emotional weight-loss is contagious!

Or maybe you've got more of a mixed bag here: "Soul Sister," "Trash Talker," and "Gossip." This is neither good nor bad, but it definitely warrants some reflection. You love each other... but is it as girlfriends? Sisters? Truly mother and daughter? This combination, to me, suggests that there might be some high-school-esque drama in your relationship, in that you're unbelievably close, but there's potential here for you two to disrespect or hurt each other in some way. Gossiping can sure be fun, don't get me wrong! But when it breaks trust or isolates someone in a negative way, it's worth thinking about why it's happening. Maybe you and your "soul sister" need to have some more heart to hearts, sharing hopes and goals, rather than assessing how much weight the neighbor has or hasn't lost since she had her baby.

And then there's the troublesome combinations: "(fill in the *expletive)," "Judge," "Stranger." Anything of this sort sounds like an extremely heavy relationship. What is it about each other that makes one (or both!) of you want to throw up your arms and shriek? At what point did you two become this sort of detached? In this instance, I suggest you and your mom sit down and write down at least three things you can be grateful for about the other person. Or write down three experiences you've had with each other that you would define as "emotionally light." Even doing just one of those exercises together acts as a springboard for your relationship renaissance. Heck, it can even be one of the shared experiences on your list!

When it comes down to it, your relationship with your mom is probably the most significant in your life because, well, she was the first person you met! I say significant instead of important, life-changing, or loving because every mother/child relationship is different. I encourage you to share this exercise with your friends and even your own children. What better time of year than Mother's Day to reflect on your time with your mom? Understanding the emotional weight of something, especially a personal relationship, can help you set goals, move forward, and make changes to either sustain or build an emotionally lighter life.