Celebrate your Maternal Legacy!

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.


I wrote Mother-Daughter Wisdom several years ago because, as a woman’s health physician, I noticed something long ago. Nothing, and I mean nothing, trumps the influence of your mother on all aspects of your life. And regardless of whether your relationship with your mom is thriving or on the rocks, if she is alive or has passed from this life, I want you to think of at least one great thing about your maternal legacy and celebrate it this Mother’s Day.

For me, that legacy is, hands down, the way my mother takes on the world of physical challenges and refuses to believe that age means anything in that regard. Last winter she drove her 40-foot camper out to Arizona with her best friend, who is 86. Note that many women stop driving outside their hometowns when they turn 50. They are too scared. Not my mother. At 84, she spent weeks in Colorado training for a trek to Mt. Everest base camp—which is 17,000 feet above sea level.

My sister and brother-in-law are going along for the fun. It’s not my kind of fun, by the way. And it took me until I was about 50 to finally realize that I could embrace the spirit of my mother’s love of the outdoors and sports, and choose how to use that same physical stamina in ways that are pleasurable for me. My pleasure simply doesn’t come from carrying a heavy pack up a mountain or sleeping on a mat in a tent in the rain. Instead, it comes from dancing, Pilates, reading, and movies—but that’s OK!

And here’s the common thread and the legacy. I never, for one minute, doubt my physical prowess or stamina. I never feel too old to learn anything new. That’s part of the reason I started dancing Argentine tango last year and expect to keep improving until the moment I take my last breath. It’s why I keep improving as a Pilates student. It’s why I transformed my body when I was in my 50’s.

Now it’s your turn. What fabulous legacy has your mother handed down to you? Was it a belief in good dental health that kept you from getting cavities? A classy sense of fashion? The ability to shop for good produce or arrange flowers beautifully? The ability to cook a fabulous meal? Or simply being your biggest and best fan. Think about it. And give thanks.

Our mothers are our taproots into the earth. And I’m thrilled to celebrate Mother’s Day with gusto this year. Please join me!

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

Last Updated: May 7, 2010

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


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  1. Julie Mitchell
    7 years ago

    Hi Chris! The first time I heard you speak was on an audio tape, back in the day when we had cassette tapes in the car. My mother ( a nurse) who was a passionate advocate of women’s health and wellness, and I were driving home to NH from a “girl’s day” in Boston, had me listen to a talk you gave… I don’t remember all of the details of where you were speaking, but the impact it had on me was life-changing! You discussed the importance of eating real leafy green veggies, and likened it to elephants who get all of there calcium from doing so! Since then, my mum has given me your book ” The Wisdom of Menopause” and it has been a companion of mine through my 40’s and now 50! I refer to it often! I love your perspective about our body’s wisdom, and I am trying hard to embrace your theories as I venture down the path of peri- menopause. You are a source of information and comfort, and inspiration on this journey, and I want to thank you! I have recently resigned from teaching in the public school system, after 27 years, and have become certified through the Institute of Intigrative Nutrtion as a health coach. I want to spread your knowledge and inspire and educate others. Thank you for the very important work you do! I especially admire your zest for life and sense of humor! You are a wonderful resource and mentor! In deep appreciation, Julie Mitchell ❤

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