When you hear the word, “web” do you think of mothering? Most likely not. Instead, do you think of the internet? A website? Or even spiders?
Within the internet, there are a myriad of intricate connections that exist. There are currently 8.2 billion connected internet devices. Currently, there are 1.94 billion websites on the internet.
It’s possible that the word “web” does not conjure up thoughts of mothering. However, after last week, being a mother is exactly what I thought of as I surveyed the spider webs on my front porch. I paused to consider both spiders and moms.
My Mother-Of-A Mistake
As I thought about both spiders and moms, I initially started to get annoyed at the pest control company I’d hired. Despite their spraying insecticide, I was still left with a porch full of spiders, webs, and wrapped carcasses of mosquitoes, flies and moths. It all looked like an insect zombie apocalypse…and a big mess.
I know as a mom, I can sometimes feel that the things I’d hoped would help me take care of the “pests” of life don’t actually work well. Have you been there? Then the item becomes just one more thing added to your “to do” in an already packed day.
So, as my annoyance turned to indignation at the sight of the mess I was left with, I picked up a broom and swiped away at the spiders and their webs. One by one, I knocked them all down!
My emotions got the best of me.
I was not. Going. To have. Those. Threads. Affect. My home.
Amidst my swiping, though, a part of me felt bad that I was interrupting each spider’s slumber and tossing away the food they’d worked so hard to catch.
Still, I swiped away at all of it.
I knocked down all the spiders and webs on my front porch, and it looked lovely.
…until I realized I’d made a big mistake.
All the bugs that I’d normally see (at night) swirling around my porch light were now stuck physically onto my house. Talk about a creepy sight!
In that moment of horror, the thought of a spider spinning its web became akin to web mothering. I realized how a mom’s “invisible (life) threads” can create a web around (and for) her daughter.
A WEB Around
Like a spider, threads spun from a mom’s life can sometimes stick to their daughter as a:
Weight of expectation. Daughters can have enough difficulty becoming their own person. They are bombarded with images of what it means to be a girl, lady, and woman. During middle school (the tween years), they are particularly vulnerable. The weight of spoken and unspoken expectations from you will be like a bag of bricks for her to lug around. Check in with your daughter about what may be weighing her down, especially if you notice her demeanor and/or energy level change.
Engulfment of guilt. Guilt is something that can get put onto someone not only religiously but maternally. Do you bring up things “you’ve done for her” often? If so, then you may be using guilt to control or manipulate your daughter. The effect can actually turn out to be the opposite of what you are desiring to happen. So, pause to consider how you may change this.
Banner for boasting. Speaking well of your daughter is different that boasting. The latter involves the mentioning of your daughter’s deeds in a way that makes you feel good/justified/legitimized/valued in a parent-to-parent social situation. In that situation, your daughter becomes objectified. However, speaking well of your daughter occurs when you are living “in the moment” with a feeling of joy for your daughter’s personhood and state of being.
A WEB For
A mom, like a spider, can also spin threads that are organized and far-reaching for the purpose of catching food for her daughter. The “web” a mom constructs can provide nourishment for her daughter. That nourishment includes:
Welcoming her in. What do you usually do when your daughter enters your space? Your body language, tone of voice, initial words make all the difference in her feeling welcomed, important, special.
Expressing appreciation for her. Is there something that your daughter’s personhood and presence adds to your life? When was the last time you expressed your appreciation to her for that? Take time to tell her.
Boundary-building. Boundaries are not bad. They come in all shapes and sizes…and protect her, you, and your mother-daughter relationship. For example, setting limits on electronic device use will help give you both time to talk face-to-face. It’ll also help you both learn to naturally “recharge.”
Are the web “threads” in your life–your web mothering–nourishing or entangling your daughter? If you’re not sure and/or need help, here’s a resource that can get you on the path towards building a web that will help you connect more intentionally with your daughter.
©Dr. Michelle Deering & Curative Connections LLC | All Rights Reserved.