MOTHER TO MOTHER
A Reading Guide to
“Mom, I Hate My Life!”
“In the shelter of each other we were meant to live.”
This guide is intended to give you an opportunity to develop allies in mothering. As you read the material in the book, mark the ideas that resonate with you, that seem unreasonable to you, or that you’d like to think about further, and then discuss them with another mother or a small group of mothers.
The questions that follow are designed to help you evaluate what is going on with you and your daughter, and to help you gain support and ideas from other moms. Don’t feel compelled to answer every question; focus on the ones that best address what your needs are in mothering your daughter at this particular time in her life, and yours.
At different points in our mothering, we all engage in what author and speaker Barbara Johnson calls “tunnelwalking”–when it feels like we are in the dark and all that we can do is put one foot in front of the other. We’re not sure where we are or where we are going.
When your children are babies and your goal is to sleep for six hours straight, and then your next goal is to sleep six hours straight for two nights in a row, you are in the midst of tunnelwalking.
When your children are preschoolers you wonder how the hours can be filled with so much to do…and yet the days go by so slowly. These are tunnelwalking days when you feel like you are about as productive as a grand organizer of grasshoppers.
Then there are the days when at 7:30 p.m. you are informed that a bug collection, a typed report on Massachusetts, and a book report on Huck Finn are due tomorrow. It’s a tunnelwalking night.
Maybe your child has a learning disability or just doesn’t fit in at school–it leads to days of tunnelwalking, doesn’t it?
When our daughters switch from one mood to the next in a matter of minutes and cap off their day by exclaiming, “Mom, I hate my life!,” we start down another tunnel. Only this time we’re not walking; we’re riding a roller coaster–at times holding on for dear life, wondering if we’ll ever get off. Some of our tunnels are pretty dark.
What I am learning is that wherever we are in life, as we keep on walking (or riding)–often by faith alone–the light at the end of this tunnel eventually appears. Then we are able to turn around, hold out a hand to others further back in the tunnel, and say: “Keep going, there’s light ahead.”
We were not meant to do this mothering thing alone. So seek out fellow tunnelwalkers and turn back to lend a hand to those behind. To paraphrase Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words in his masterful work, Life Together, God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of another, in the mouth of other mothers. Therefore, a mother needs another mother who speaks God’s word to her. She needs her again and again when she becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by herself she cannot help herself . . . . Her own heart is uncertain. And that also clarifies the goal of all Christian community: we meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, San Francisco, HarperCollins, 1954, pp. 22-23.