I Want my Mommy! Why We Never Outgrow This Need

Self-Soothing Is so Important

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Motherhood

I was talking with a friend the other day, whose daughter Nancy is pregnant with her second child. Nancy had gotten into the habit of calling her mom in tears just about every time she felt stressed out—and with the expectation that her mom would “fix it.”

My friend was laughing as she said, “I told her in a light-hearted way that she has to step up and be an adult now. I explained that it’s not OK anymore for her to call me every time she loses it, like she has her whole life. That’s been our relationship, you know.

“Now that she has her own children, she needs to break that habit, find the solutions to her problems, and not continue to count on me to make it ‘all better.'”

So true. There comes a time, sooner or later, when each of us has to step up and learn to be an adult—even though as daughters we’d much rather have our mothers fix it.

Being an adult—and mothering ourselves—means knowing how to nurture and care for ourselves.

Sure—it’s likely that there will never be another human whose touch and whose love can soothe us the way our mother’s can.

This is, of course, one of the reasons why self-care and self-nurturing skills and behaviors—the absolute backbone of flourishing health—can be such a challenge for individuals whose own mothers are or were absent in some major way, such as alcoholism, self-centered behavior, chronic depression, and so forth.

Here’s another huge truth: Our health, thoughts, feelings, behavior, and sense of worthiness are all highly influenced by the very person in whose body our own bodies were formed—awash in the amniotic fluid and blood that not only contained nutrients, but also our mother’s every thought, fear, dream, and aspiration.

This isn’t some poetic idea—it’s simple scientific fact.

It’s also one of the key reasons why it’s so easy for our mothers to make us feel guilty.

Our bodies remember that when our mothers were upset, we got less blood flow in the umbilical cord. Her displeasure quite literally determined how much life-giving oxygen was available to us as our bodies were being formed.

Talk about a primal imprint for making sure our mothers are happy with us!

This Mother’s Day, I want to tell you about a different way to think about your mother and about yourself—a way that is deeply true and liberating, no matter what is going on with your mother.

On a soul level, we’re old friends with our mothers. And they signed up for assisting us on our soul’s journeys big time—by being willing to take on the role of our mother. And no matter how well they did or didn’t do that job, we have a job, too: to realize that though we might not have had the mother we wanted, we ALL got the mother our souls needed.

What’s more, every single one of us can connect right now with the mother energy that made all of our bodies in the first place—the Earth herself.

It has been said that when you lavish your attention on the earth—on a flower, or a stream, or any aspect of nature—that energy loves you right back.

In the book series The Ringing Cedars, Anastasia refers to the land you live on and love as “Love dissolved in space.” You can feel this when you travel to parks and gardens, farms, and yards that have been loved by those who live there. This mothering energy is available to each of us from the Earth and from Mother Nature—no matter what has happened with your biological mother.

So here is my prescription for a glorious Mother’s Day.

Call your mother—in spirit if she is no longer in a body—or if speaking with her directly is too painful.Here’s a special prayer: “With my Spirit, I send Divine Love to my mother’s Spirit.”

That’s it. Just say this prayer. With your whole heart. And let go of the outcome.

  1. Eat organic food. Eating organic food is like breast-feeding from the Earth herself. (This phrase makes a great Tweet! Please share.)
  2. Stand on the Earth—not asphalt. Stand barefoot on the grass, in the sand, in the ocean, or on some rocks. Allow the loving mothering energy of our Mother the Earth—the goddess Gaia—to come right up into your body and hold you, rock you, and comfort you. Do this nurturing, healing, earthing exercise for 20 minutes.
  3. Know that it’s natural and necessary to “Want your mommy.” We all do. And the very act of acknowledging this and turning to the Earth herself to get it, begins the process of healing the child of wonder within each of us.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Now it’s your turn. What are YOU doing to heal the bond with your mother? With your daughter? I know many of my community members have experience accepting that they were born to the parents who could help them with their soul’s journey. If you are one, please leave a comment so others can learn from you. And if you liked this blog, please share it!

Last Updated: May 5, 2014

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

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.

Comments

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  1. Aitchtick
    12 months ago

    I haven’t learnt how to stop myself from wanting her. I just deal with the tears and emptiness, then I move on. There’s really nothing to it. She’s always at work and I have to do everything myself. My parents believe that it’s an ‘educational experience’ or that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. But for me, it’s just painful. She has to work 5 days every week but sometimes she has to work those 5 days and on Saturdays too. School is getting harder and harder too, especially without her. Why did she choose this job? She doesn’t know I feel that way but, I don’t really show it when she’s home. I kind of just sit in my room watching YouTube, which is not a healthy lifestyle. I have to stop and show her more love. Maybe then she won’t leave me.

    1. Aitchtick
      12 months ago

      I do understand that it’s normal for a child to feel this way but, it’s not for me. I don’t like it.

  2. Dale Brown
    12 months ago

    That is why they make 31 different flavors too. I am 68 now after the 18th of this month and I wish my Mom was still here, so I could call her and say those words,” I need my Mommy” Yes, we had our differences in life, but after they are gone, one can’t say another word to her. So I would say this, let folks call their Mommy whenever they want too.

    1. Seth
      8 months ago

      Boy, do I want my Mommy. I need her so much now. I need the unconditional love she gave me. She died a long time ago. She was only 63. Now, I’m dying and I’m scared. She would always make things right for me. Even this. If she were here, she would make it right. I would not be so scared.

      My mommy was born in another country and became a refugee after World War II. She never learned to spell properly. She called herself Mami.

      I will always love and want my dear Mami! G-d bless my Mami and mommies everywhere!

  3. Patricia
    1 year ago

    This is wisdom that knows no time. I lost my Mom this past January 2017; oh and how I miss her so desperately, her hugs, I was the daughter who spoke with her daily and expected her to solve my problems, until her very last years, it was time for me to take care of her! I don’t believe time will heal the wound but I will learn to live with it, just as I grieve for so many lost opportunities that will never be. My only salvation is knowing that one day this life shall pass and I will enter eternity where there is no pain, no knawing ache, just peace in being with my Lord Jesus .

    1. J. Canady
      1 year ago

      I lost my Mama 1 month ago and am so empty and broken. She was my best friend and so amazing.

  4. Robin
    5 years ago

    Thank you for this post and for that wonderful prayer. I lost my mother when I was six years old, I am now 59.It seems the older I become the more I miss her in my life. It’s very painful. After reading this post I now feel I can always be connected to her spirit with this special prayer and the goodness of mother earth.

  5. CJ
    5 years ago

    Learning to mother ourselves with the support of Mother Earth feels to me like a huge and worthy challenge. After attempting to mother my own mother from my earliest days, I decided to leave my profession to care for her during a series of illnesses, culminating in six years of full-time care. While recovering from a second broken hip, she changed her will, gave all authority to distant sons, and started telling family and friends that I am mentally ill. The betrayal I feel is overwhelming!

  6. Lisa
    5 years ago

    Thank you Dr. Northrop! I always learn or am affirmed when I read what you have written. When I feel overwhelmed or very ill, my children and husband will hear me say, “I want my Mommy.” What I mean is that I need to be taken care of and my mother did such a great job of caring nurturing and loving…and still does..that I reach back to that feeling when I need that kind of care. Most times, my husband, daughter who is 11 or son who is 9 will say, “Can I help? And I let them.

  7. Ellen
    5 years ago

    This is a suggestion for Jenna – Try EFT, (Emotional Freedom Technique). This is something you can learn how to do yourself. A good resource for this is The Tapping Solution, and Gary Craig EFT. Dr. Northrup is a believer in this technique. My best wishes for your healing!

  8. Lynda
    5 years ago

    My mom is 93 and lives close. My mom was never emotionally very accessible. As she has grown older I find forgiveness is at the heart of our relationship now. I cherish the times we spend together. And now she can relax and love me back. I am a very different mother to my 2 daughters. We are close and always have been. i am grateful for learning what I want and don’t in my relationships. Primarily, it comes down to just being LOVE!

  9. Shoshanna
    5 years ago

    Thank you for articulating what I have always know ; that we choose our parents before conception . Keeping this in mind I get less upset with my mother because I know that my experiences with her, even the bad ones are necessary for my spiritual maturation.

  10. Sandra Groom
    5 years ago

    I had a wonderful, loving, funny, generous and sometimes beautifully eccentric mother who sang and danced and loved passionately, gave herself fully and never missed an opportunity to contribute to another, particularly children and babies – she was a “Baby Magnet” – and people adored her. I miss her every day xxx

  11. Nora
    5 years ago

    I had a wonderful relationship with my mom. She lived with me for four years and my three daughters helped when they were home from college. In January my dear mother passed away and I am still sad.I know she is with me. I’ve been told she is…but I regret a medical decision we did at the end and keep apologizing to her for it. And my own wonderful daughters help me feel better and get analytical with me about it but in my heart I feel like I should have known…

  12. Nora
    5 years ago

    I had a wonderful relationship with my mother. She lived with me for four years and she passed away in January. I miss her and apologize to her about a medical decision that I regret doing. My own daughters are a great support system and have been a joy to be around but in my heart I feel like I should have known what the best decision should have been…I know she loves me and is with me. For now I just miss her.

  13. Nora
    5 years ago

    I had a wonderful relationship with my mom. She lived with me for four years and my three daughters helped when they were home from college. In January my dear mother passed away and I am still sad.I know she is with me. I’ve been told she is…but I regret a medical decision we did at the end and keep apologizing to her for it. And my own wonderful daughters help me feel better and get analytical with me about it but in my heart I feel like I should have known…

  14. Anar
    5 years ago

    Thank you for this beautiful post and bringing awareness to the core issues at hand. We all need mothering!!! I just love the fact that we can do that by going to the root of all….Mother Earth…just stand and be in the nature..barefoot on its soil and stand on it and take in the nurturing and beauty of this mother who is so generous to us at all times. And eat nourishing mostly plant base fresh…yum!

  15. Joan Bossi
    5 years ago

    As mom lay in hospital 3 days away from passing I leaned over and whispered in hr ear, “Get nice and cozy and warm under the covers…” Just like she used to say to me when she would tuck me in and rub my back if I had trouble settling in. I did the same for her and when she died on Xmas Eve I know my last words were nurturing and loving just like she taught me. She gave me the gift of love which I felt helped me “mother” my 3 ducklings…my two awesome daughters and my loving son:)

  16. Paula
    5 years ago

    Love your blog. Your book about mother’s and daughters helped me accept that my mother is the mother I was meant to have. I am gay and it took a long time for my mom to accept that but by me healing and accepting that I didn’t get what i wanted either, my mother healed too. Today she calls me a mermaid – different but that she would change a thing. We barely spoke when I was a kid but today I can tell her anything. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  17. E
    5 years ago

    I was 53 yrs old & Mom in her 90’s. A fire at a neighbor’s house spread to ours & my husband & I barely got out in time. I was hysterically crying & I called my Mother. I said “Mom, my house is on fire can you come down.” She came, as I knew she would & I love her for it. To this day I can’t believe I called her. Mom has since left her body. For Mother’s Day, I will go spend time with her @ her grave & chant “Saraswati Mata (live)” by Daphne Tse. Lost of love Dr. N

  18. Jen Bartlett
    5 years ago

    Jenna – I have never experienced what you are going through, but I think you would benefit from talking to a counselor or therapist. It can be quite healing. Also, if you are suffering from clinical depression, medication can be very effective. Please do not suffer alone or in silence…there is help out there if you seek it. I will be praying for you.

  19. E
    5 years ago

    I was 53 yrs old & my Mother in her 90’s. When the fire at a neighbors house spread to mine, my husband & I barely got out in time. I was hysterically crying & I called my Mom & said “Mom, my house is on fire can you come down.” She came as I knew she would and I love her for honoring that insanely stupid request. To this day I can’t believe I did that.
    My Mother has since left her body. For Mother’s Day, I will go to her grave, spend time with her & chant “Saraswati Mata (live)” by Daphne Tse

  20. Ann Marie
    5 years ago

    Very helpful post, thank you! My mother has always seen me as her enemy and has tried to destroy me on more than one occasion. Her hatred has made me more compassionate and I believe a better person. I have not seen her in years and I am ok with that. I do love the prayer you suggested, I will send her love through prayer.

  21. Susanne
    5 years ago

    Unfortunately this has not been my experience, we are not always “soul friends” with our mothers, sometimes there has been a negative karmic connection from the past that has tied us into our biological mothers in this lifetime. I was carrying a lot of my mother’s karma and in this lifetime i have been shown this, with help from others, and I am still working on releasing that karma and connection.

  22. debbie
    5 years ago

    this is to jenna who posted earlier.im so sorry you had a sad childhood.dont be afraid to grieve.cry a lot,and whenever you need to ,its ok,it doesn’t mean you are losing it.tears and grieving are healing.sometimes our parents grew up messed up too from bad childhoods,and they do the best they can,which sometimes isn’t very good.take the good things you got from them and run with it,with Gods strength do better with your life and with your kids.dont ever give up!

  23. Kathy
    5 years ago

    I think it goes beyond the umbilical cord. Both of my daughters are adopted. Everything you said relates to our relationship, as well.

  24. Claudine Martin
    5 years ago

    I’ve been struggling this past year with a narcisstic, alcoholic mother. Your article & what you wrote earlier- ” What we resist persists?” were fitting. I do my best to let go & accept that my mother isn’t able to show unconditional love. The media portrays mothers as lavishing unconditional love on children which is often untrue. It’s time mothers r seen more objectively as human beings w/problems they pass on to their children – I’ve broken the chain and not passed my mother’s issues on.

  25. Connie Davis
    5 years ago

    Love! I realize that my trait of “wearing my heart on my sleeve” comes from my mother. She lost her beloved father while she was pregnant with me. I’ve always cryed with grief, pride, happiness, anger even though my parents were stoic. I am learning to embrace my emotional side and love the tenderness I have been given. I feel a reconnection with my grandfather fondly referred to as “heyPop”. Bless you, Mom, for bring me into this earth and allowing me emotional connectivity.

  26. Julie
    5 years ago

    I miss my mother every day. Thank you Sherill, your story has really helped me. My mother loved me unconditionally.
    I will draw strength from women who love themselves. My mother always said, ” you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else” and ” you are beautiful!” Happy Mothers day.

  27. Rebecca
    5 years ago

    Even though my family was upper middle class, I felt unsupported from a very early age. I remember wishing I could buy stock, live off the interest, and live in a motel when I was in 6th grade. In spite of that I am today the person friends turn to when their lives hit a snag. I am everyone’s mom because I am my own mother, father and best friend. You can’t grab security. You can only ride on the ebb and flow of energy that courses through the world.

  28. Sarah
    5 years ago

    Thank you for this wonderful post!! It’s so true that many of us go through the “I want my mommy” phase until we realize that we must ultimately nurture ourselves. I certainly went through this along with anger toward my mother for what I saw as imperfections until I understood the spiritual purpose of our relationship. I now see how our relationship, along with all relationships, are divinely inspired and are perfectly set up for our souls to evolve.

  29. Megan
    5 years ago

    Part 4: I am so grateful for the gift of that life and for my other two amazing daughters who bring me such joy…I was lucky to have the mother I did, not every story is my ideal childhood but its just that. Not my story, thanks mom for teaching me that too. Happy Mothers Day! Sorry for 4 parts I just felt really compelled to share all that and it only allowed 500 characters…

  30. Megan
    5 years ago

    Part3: But then I look at that amazing 17 year old of mine and all the work she has put into herself and the healing she has done and I am amazed. How selfish it would have been of me to try and fix everything for her, I would have denied her profound growth and courage. She will be an amazing mother someday and some of it will be from myself and her grandmothers but some of it will come from her pain and her experiences for good or ill with the woman who gave her life.

  31. Megan
    5 years ago

    Part 2:I used to cling tightly to the idea that she doesn’t need her, that I was enough of a mother to heal her wounds and give her all she needs. My mother helped me greatly in this ego struggle; It is not my story, it is not my job to heal my daughters wounds but to teach her to heal her own. It is hard sometimes still, even now I find myself wanting to swoop her up and make her bio-mom disappear, my mama bear comes out hard core sometimes!

  32. Megan
    5 years ago

    Part 1:I grew up with an amazing mother we have our “stuff” but in the end I am so remarkably blessed by her then and now. I am a mother to three beautiful girls my oldest was not born of me, I don’t like the label step-daughter but I guess that is what she is. She has a mother she sees a couple times a month, a mother who has given her so very little and caused her so much pain…it is so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that she chose her, that they chose each other but it is true.

  33. Julie
    5 years ago

    I was lucky to have a wonderful mother. She was so fun and loving. She was an accomplished businesswoman, very bright, and always encouraging. I miss her everyday.

  34. Lonna
    5 years ago

    Brilliant!

  35. Judith Orr
    5 years ago

    I have gone through 3 yrs of health & financial issues & now giving up my home. ‘I want my mommy’ has been on my mind many times lately Mom passed away 14 yrs ago. I do tuck myself in w/tea & give myself applause for small gains. My Mom was my cheerleader & I miss that as well as the physical presence of her hugs. I have decided to go out today & create ‘random acts of hugging’ to give myself that one big ingredient to honor my mom & give out some of the warmth & caring she gave out so lovingly.

  36. MN
    5 years ago

    Jenna, how wonderful that you reached out. It sounds like you are seeking to take care of yourself and find ways to heal. Sometime the best way to do this is to speak to someone who understands these deep feelings of grief – like a clergy person, minister, rabbi or priest, or a professional counselor or social worker. There is help and I hope you seek it out. May your love for yourself give you strength.

  37. Cecilia
    5 years ago

    To this day I haven’t completely accepted the death of my mother. Im a mother of 3 girls and I feel enormous responsibility not only to provide a stable home, but also to give them the emotional security and guide in life. However, sometimes I feel so disappoint with myself as a mother, and I tend to blame my mommy for not been there during my childhood. My deepest desire is to get rid of my wounds and to be present for my daughters. I sent her the special prayer. Thank you! XO

  38. Paula
    5 years ago

    My dear Mom died less than a month ago, your words are (not for the first time) a loving caress to my heart! Maternity has definitely been the highlight of my life! Thank you, thank you dear Dr Northrup!

  39. Kelly Salasin
    5 years ago

    Absolutely beautiful.

    I passed this along to my Let Your Yoga Dance participants who danced to the theme of mother–unconscious/conscious, earthly/spiritual, mothering ourselves–last night.

    This is a perfect compliment to what we explored through music, movement & meditation.

    Thank you.
    Kelly

  40. Melissa Carr
    5 years ago

    How wonderful a post! Thank you for sharing such wisdom with us all who need to hear it!
    I listen more and talk less. I also make sure to show my own daughter to love herself and her body for the glorious vessel it is. I have struggled with this growing up as I saw my Mom down play herself & her body in a negative way. I am breaking free of this & NOT projecting thoughts like this on my daughter so I can show her that she can be who she is, and that it is good enough, because it is!

  41. debbie
    5 years ago

    good article dr.northrup!i love the idea of getting in touch with nature,being outside,planting something and getting our hands and feet in the earth,but personally it would be to feel Gods strength as He created the earth!

  42. Anita
    5 years ago

    I have chosen men in my life for mothers that I could be close with…

  43. jenna
    5 years ago

    my mother died 27 years ago, when i was 25. i am the youngest of six, my mom suffered from depression and i have fallen into a very deep depression all these years later. i am remembering things from when i was a child, feeling incredible sadness. when my dad died suddenly when i was 15, we were not allowed to express feelings, and all the grief is rising in me so deeply now i can barely function. i am seeking any wisdom advice from this community, and i thank you profoundly.

  44. Verito
    5 years ago

    I’m learning to take care and nourish myself… my mother was mostly absent during my childhood
    I’m learning how to have a distant relationship with her… it seems it is the only way to have a relationship with her… keeping her absent
    I do not have a daughter… I hope to have one soon
    I try to do my best to be presente in my son’s life…
    For me, it is not yet the time to forgive… I’m not hurrying myself until i’m ready to forgive…

  45. ANGELA DIANNE
    5 years ago

    What a wonderful, inspiring piece. Only last night I thought so long and hard about this concept
    and here, this morning, the wisdom is written in my e-box. Thank you so much, I will cherish this
    forever…..much love on Mothers Day to you.

  46. Sherill
    5 years ago

    A wise friend once helped me through an “I want my mommy!” spell. I was in great need of my mother but she had died many years before. My friend said, “If your mother were here now, what would she do for you?” After some thought, I said, “She would give me a hug, tuck me in bed, and bring me a cup of tea.” My friend answered with words that have guided me ever since: “How much of that can you do for yourself?”

  47. Tracee P
    5 years ago

    Thank you so much for this blog. I have had a difficult relationship with my mom because she has suffered with anxiety and depression for many years and is now dealing with alzheimers. Now that I am a mother myself, I find myself reflecting on the past and seeing things that my mother never gave to me I guess because of her own unhappiness. I love the idea that our spirits are connected even if our earthly connection has been strained. Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  48. Pennie
    5 years ago

    Every woman I touch with my heart, or who touches me, helps me heal the pain of my relationship with my mother who was not able to be emotionally available or nurturing with me, or any of us. Even though I have done much healing, my own daughter has also been affected by me in turn. I continue to heal through other women — through friends and mentors, I am blessed and am passing it on with intention and heart.

  49. GLS
    5 years ago

    My Mother and Father are healthy in their 90’s.
    I continue to see / feel their wisdom and hope I in turn pass it on to my child and grandchildren
    That continueum is the greatest gift
    !

  50. Linda Sheridan
    5 years ago

    I have a different dynamic. I felt and still feel like I am my mother’s parent from very early on. I am almost 58. At age 9-10, I was the mediator of my parents. It was my mother’s doing that caused the friction and commotion. My childhood was not carefree. I am spiritual and do not resent it, it has made me who I am.
    I am grateful for the souls who became my children and all the people in my life.

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