Mother’s Day: a week ago now, but for some of us, the bittersweet holiday evokes feelings ranging from ambivalence and distance to anger and sorrow. Year after year, on the holiday meant to celebrate our mamas’ wonderfulness, a raft of emotions can instead make the day anywhere from angsty to impossible.
True for you? If so, The Girl in the Red Boots: Making Peace With My Mother may loosen your feet from emotional muck and change your next Mother’s Day for the better.
In this engaging memoir, psychologist Judith Ruskay Rabinor, PhD draws from her extensive experience working with moms and daughters who deeply need peace with one another—and who are embroiled in eating disorders. She also taps a lifetime of memories with her own challenging mother.
I must say that the author’s personal vulnerability, self-awareness, and deep (albeit imperfect) love make this book.
Make this book what?
Well, they make it wonderful. Rabinor’s candid self-disclosure and humility encourage relationship growth. Encourage each reader to exchange her “I love my mother, but . . .” attitude for an honest look at one’s own blind spots. Encourage every reader to say this about her mother-daughter relationship (and indeed about all relationships between human beings):
“Imperfect love has to be good enough, because imperfect love is all there is.”
To find peace in that reality.
Without inducing guilt over past relationship failures, she challenges readers to examine their own mother-daughter dynamics. To “recognize the longings behind their complaints.” By offering her own story, Rabinor gives her readers an example of how to grow in their own self-forgiveness and in empathy for mothers who wounded them. Her account is a courageous, thought provoking look at her story’s dark side. But it’s also tender and intimate. Heart-softening and soft-handed. Trail-blazing. Compassionate.
Compassionate . . . even for Rabinor’s mother, who betrayed her family and sometimes gave her daughter terrible, destructive advice.
Yes. Even then.
Through a multitude of illustrations, the author shows the impact of patient, thoughtful, mutual exploration of these important relationships. But even without mutuality, she reveals how self-knowledge and chosen shifts in perception by daughters toward their mothers can quiet the pain these wounded or broken relationships can cause.
Even if the mother doesn’t change.
Does the book say all mother-daughter relationships can be healed? Or that daughters should dive back into abusive situations?
Of course not.
But if we daughters can thaw our frozen judgments about our mothers, if we can look at ourselves humbly and acknowledge that we, too, are broken and imperfect—just as they are, if we can banish our victimhood and reinterpret our stories, then we can learn to hold our moms inside of us in a place of acceptance. And, hopefully, our interactions with them will change—whether in real time or in memory—for the better.
Easy? No. And change can take a long time. But the outcome? New neural connections in brains changed for the better. Hearts re-opened. Greater wisdom and joy.
Maybe even peace with Mother.
And from earlier posts this week . . .
Open for Bees-iness.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . .”
“A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said.”
All spruced up.
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.”
Thanks for coming over, friends. So good to have you here.
Watching Nature, Seeing Life: Through His Creation, God Speaks.