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Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives
May 2002

My goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and prosperous life.

Happy Mother's Day
Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, mothers-in-law, step-mothers, sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters, daughters-in-law, aunts, grandmothers, teachers, mentors, and friends. Happy Mother's Day to all who have been like mothers to other women whether you have actually given birth or adopted a child.


Spring Cleaning of our Relationship Houses

Spring cleaning can make our offices and homes feel more user-friendly and give us the clear space to begin new projects or complete some incomplete ones. Sometimes the best spring cleaning is the emotional kind. This Mother's Day weekend, consider the emotional spring cleaning you may need to do with any of your mother-daughter or women relationships.

Tough Choices
In late November, 1990, I got a call at my office from my father with an update on my mother’s health. During their annual fall vacation, she developed a slight cough with no other symptoms. Back at home she went to her doctor who ordered tests including a test of the fluid in her lungs. The diagnosis was shocking—metastasized cancer, origin unknown. The second feeling I had after shock was that of revenge. Now she was ill and I would neglect her the way she had neglected my health needs as a child. Out of neglect almost died from a burst appendix until my dad ordered her to call the family doctor. Emergency surgery and many penicillin shots later, I was alive, figuring that for the rest of my life I lived on borrowed time.

As quickly as those revenge thoughts came, I chased them away, unwanted baggage that was going to bog me down in my life journey. I have always believed that self-esteem is the reputation you have with yourself and I had worked too hard at living the life of love and compassion to ruin my work-in-progress now. So I cleared the space of resentment and asked myself: “How do I want to handle this time in my life? How do I want to preserve my positive self-esteem as someone who can overcome a hurtful history and be there for my mother in this difficult time of her life?”

Mary Marcdante had a similar experience when her mother was diagnosis with ovarian cancer. Speaker, author, Marcdante realized that while their relationship had not been terrible, it had not been close and she was missing information that she needed to transform her relationship with her mother to a special friendship. Happily for the rest of us, the work she began before her mother’s death and continued since has resulted in a guidebook about how to clear space and create a friendship with your mother.

My Mother, My Friend was not a book that Mary intended to write but happily for us her mother was an annoying nag who appeared to Mary in a posthumous dream and nagged Mary into doing some difficult baggage unloading so that she could make the job easier for the rest of us.

Your Spring Cleaning Outline
My Mother, My Friend gives daughters an outline of ten topics to talk to our mothers about:

  • Health,
  • Money,
  • Sex,
  • Secrets,
  • Religion

In other words, topics many mother-daughter dyads avoid like land minds. The themes of the book are themes of empowerment for any woman wishing to live a life of meaning. Even if your mother may be reluctant to do the work with you, Mary Marcdante can help you ease into conversations that are difficult to start. For example, she writes about Jane who knew better than to propose “Let’s be friends” to her mother. What Jane did propose was that her mother teach her to bake bread and that was the avenue to travel to a better friendship.

Marcdante gives lots of suggestions for easing into the discussions so they don’t seem so heavy. Each chapter lists questions for self-reflection and questions to ask Mom about.

What if your mother is no longer with you or what if the estrangement is so great that there will never be the opportunity to talk like, Marcdante recommends. For one thing you may be able to piece together her story by interviewing other family and friends. For another you may be a Mom who needs to do some relationship cleaning with your own grown daughter. This book may also inspire you to do some cleaning out of your other mother-daughter relationship houses such as with an in-law. Most of the material could be adapted to talking to a dad or a son.

If you are a mom of an adult daughter, what a gift this book and its’ work could be for your relationship.

Second Chances
You may have a chance to do the mother-daughter relationship with other women besides your own mother or daughter. Step-mothers, grandmothers, mothers-in-law, daughters-in-law, friends, mentors all qualify as places you can do the space clearing you might not be able to do directly with your own mother.

My mother-in-law gave me the opportunity to experience another kind of mother-daughter relationship. We had such a special spiritual connection that we joked that whoever got to heaven first would have to send a message that they arrived. The day she died after an eight year illness with Alzheimer’s, I was preparing for a talk on communication for a group of women executives and business owners. I gave the talk, received a small gift, a leather bond note tablet, and left for the out-of-town funeral. When I returned, I was putting the gift on the shelf and opened it again. This time I saw something I hadn’t noticed the first time. The brand name on the top of the paper tablet written in beautiful script like that of my mother-in-law was Hazel, her first name. Coincidence, perhaps or maybe a gift to remind me that my relationship with Hazel gave me a much needed second chance to experience a mother-daughter relationship that nurtured my ability to be a mom to my daughter.

This Mother’s Day give yourself and all your friends the gift of Mary Marcdante’s book, My Mother, My Friend. It may help you deepen a friendship with your mother, your daughter or maybe give you a fresh look at any or your relationship houses that need spring cleaning.

BossWomen need all the "Mom" support we can get. Consider all the relationships where you nurture and are nurtured by women who support your efforts. Find a way to thank them for the opportunities and support they provide.

Have a nurturing and supportive month.

Susan Robison


BossWoman coaching topics include work-life balance, career transitions, building your business or practice, time management, and increasing productivity.

Telelearning is attracting busy professions like yourself. Imagine just-in-time learning without having to transport yourself anywhere other than your home of office. I am currently a student in an advanced coaching skills class taught by Dr. Ben Dean of MentorCoach. It is a fabulous learning opportunity with fellow students all over the country. As part of a course assignment, a fellow student and I did a workshop for women balancing multiple roles. We intend to offer this workshop again and plan to offer another workshop late in the winter on how to survive completing a doctoral dissertation. More on this later.


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Copyright 2002 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site without my permission.

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