Creating the Ideal Inner Mom

May is for Mother’s Day. Mother, mommy, mom. She is our first relationship in life. She carried us for 9 months inside her body. She birthed us, fed us, kept us warm and safe — to the extent that she was able. She also taught us about love, forgiveness and how to be. We have a lot to be grateful for even if the relationship was not perfect.

Rabbit mom with children - Creating the Ideal Inner Mom
Mothering is a nearly impossible job to get right.

Too much love creates dependency. Too little engenders hardness or desperation. Over-protection can instill timidness, while too little may result in injury or death. Criticism and high expectations may breed self-doubt, while indulgence begets laziness and indecision. The right balance is not only tricky, it’s a moving target that shifts from child to child and birthday to birthday.

I have never raised a child from birth, so my understanding of mothering comes mostly from the receiving end. I did do a five-year stint as a houseparent on the Navajo reservation working with emotionally disturbed adolescents. Of course it is not the same as dealing with your own. Lately, I’ve been helping my husband with his mother and father who are losing memory and moving into early stages of dementia. Again, it is not the same as dealing with my own parents. It has, however, given me a much better understanding of the mother challenge, particularly the balance between safety and  independence. I find I weigh in on the side of independence. It’s essential to self-worth and meaning for our elders. But my mother-in-law fell, so that balance needs to shift for me.

I have much respect for mothers and the challenges they face with their children. Rather than judge or get caught up in their shortcomings, I find it more helpful to consider every mom as perfect – exactly what her children need for this lifetime. Whatever her flaws, whatever hurts or wounds she inadvertently inflicted, she sets us on our path of life.

Who knows, maybe before we were born there was a pact between us to experience this exact relationship so that we might learn from it.

Part of this journey is the cultivation of the ideal mom within – the internal voice that is both loving and nurturing while inspiring excellence and boldness. A mom who can guide all of our inner children, the impulsive as well as the cautious, the outspoken as well as the shy, the courageous as well as the fearful. Yes, it would have been nice to have had that from birth, but maybe that’s not the plan. Maybe what gives spice to our lives is this maternal challenge, this imperfect/perfect mom–the puzzle or problem we need to solve.

The first step in meeting the maternal challenge is to let go of victimhood. We need to acknowledge Mom’s gifts and find the diamonds in the dirt. It is in the difficulties, the hardships that we develop our strength and direction.

Actually, it is a pretty tall order and I don’t think it can be accomplished alone. We just can’t see our blind spots. Without an interim ideal mother to guide us, we are led by the voice of our childhood wounds. A mentor or teacher is needed, someone who understands, who has been in the trenches and mastered self-mothering themselves. We are social beings, so this makes a lot of sense.  We need the guidance of others.

When the student is ready the teacher appears.

We can’t change unless we first set an intention to change. Change, however, is unpredictable and scary. We often settle for mediocre rather than face the maternal challenge. Mediocre is safe and predictable and the lizard brain (brain stem) loves safety and predictability.

Loss is one of those events that can get us going. The bigger the loss, the more it obliterates safety and predictability. It throws us into chaos and unleashes all our carefully suppressed emotions and wounds. Loss is a catalyst that provides us with the motivation to change, because really, we have no choice. That is why I work with people are struggling with grief. It is a gateway, the inciting incident to the hero and heroine’s journey.

Have you experienced a significant loss? Are you ready to change?  Not everyone is, and that is ok. We move at our own pace. If you ARE ready, I invite you to explore my recordings and blogs to see if we might be a fit. If yes, contact me and we’ll talk.

Happy Inner Mother ‘s Day!



WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Grief, Loss and Death Expert Michelle Peticolas, Ph.D. helps professional women struggling with grief and loss to have peace-of-mind, closure and a life worth living. If you’re ready to shift into a whole new way of being with death and loss, a new way of living your life, get Michelle’s complimentary guide, Essentials for Grieving Well at


  1. Yes, Michelle, thank you so much for this article! You are absolutely right. The best thing we can all do for ourselves is to find our Inner Mother and heal our Inner Child. I am happy to be on this journey with you on my side as a coach. Thank you for all you do.

    • Michelle Peticolas says:

      Thank you, Lira. I am pleased to hear that you found the article helpful. I also enjoy working with you. It is a pleasure to observe you insights and to watch your transformation.


  1. […] like motherhood (see Creating the Ideal Inner Mom), is a demanding role and difficult to get right. Push children too hard and you crush their spirit […]

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