Toxic Mom Toolkit Journal Project – Are you really my mother?

31 Mar

Toxic Mom Toolkit Journal Project – Are you my mother?

Remember that children’s book that had the little bird that fell from its nest walking around asking every animal “Are you my mother?”

Sometimes, being the daughter of a toxic mom can make us feel a little bit like that fledgling bird. Some of us even wonder if we are our mother’s real daughters and begin searching for family secrets like adoption or cross-generational parenting.

When I was a private investigator researcher specializing in identifying the birth parents of adult adoptees it amazed me how many times a woman would discover something she felt all along: that her actual mother was her aunt or much older sister, or the family friend who stopped by every fifth Christmas.

One way to decide who your mother really is can be solved by asking yourself who really looked out for you when you were growing up. In the 20 Questions Every Daughter of a Toxic Mom Should Ask Herself blog post at, I suggested that you sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and try to write down three wonderful things your mother ever did for you.

Giving birth to you doesn’t count.

Can you think of one but not two? Can you only think of things that were really rooted in your mother’s image of you like paying for a good school or buying you designer clothes you didn’t really ask for or throwing an over the top wedding.

After compiling your list, turn that sheet of paper over.

Ask yourself: Who has done the nicest, the kindest things for me?

In my case, a boss I worked for cared for me like another daughter. He paid me well, he established a retirement fund and made me contribute to it even if he had to loan me the money to do it. He told me I was smart. He paid for my early writing classes. He told me to write because he could see I was a writer before I did.

My husband constantly does so many kind things for me from handling all the stressful stuff involved in staying solvent and keeping a peaceful home – to always texting me positive and encouraging messages and scheduling time to just talk and listen.

My friends, who know more about me than any member of my family ever did, have regularly checked on me as I went missing during the two years I worked on my book. The coffee dates, phone calls, emails and small treats that arrived in my mailbox have really encouraged me.

So, who is my mother – the one who nurtures me and wants the best for me? It was never my mother, the woman who raised me. My life has taught me that the people around me who possess those loving impulses to encourage me are mother enough.

Look at your list. Who really is your mother/encourager? Who has the power to sustain you when you are discouraged? Mother’s Day is coming on May 12th. I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for this: Happy Mother’s Day to You – Thank you for being like a mother to me. Or maybe they do? How many cards like that could you send out? Write about this in your journal. Explore the idea of mothering and how it applies to your life.

And report back!

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3 Responses to “Toxic Mom Toolkit Journal Project – Are you really my mother?”

  1. tappmonkey March 31, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Wow, I just bought that book, “Are You My Mother?” last week and gave it to my grandson for his first birthday. It was the very first book I ever read by myself, and could do it at the tender age of three. I’d have been able to read it a week or so earlier, but I found the subject rather frightening to think about. Once I became comfortable with the book’s message, reading it was easy.

    At the time, my oldest brother was having difficulty learning to read, he was turning six and attending Catholic school first grade. When the nuns found out I could read a book by myself they urged my mother not to read to me because I was “precocious” and I’d only grow up to get married anyway. It’s not like I would have to read anything of consequence after all. Sheesh! And yes, my mother read to me less after that, but it didn’t matter, I sneaked peeks and read books by myself when Mom wasn’t looking— which ended up being quite often.

  2. jenna5960 May 8, 2016 at 7:57 pm #

    Today is Mother’s Day 2016 and I’m here because I have a very toxic mother and I’m sad. She was physically and emotionally abusive. She is still living, not far from me, but she is still very mean. Anyway, I unfortunately didn’t have anyone else to make connections with as a child, and still now. Makes it even worse and even more lonely.

    • collectingjourneys May 9, 2016 at 3:20 am #

      Jenna, Thanks for posting. You are not the only one feeling this way today, or any other day. Please check out Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook and go to
      Amazon to check out my book, Toxic Mom Toolkit. You can read a few chapters for free online, which might be helpful today. Sending you hugs today. – Rayne

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