There is nothing fiercer than a momma bear protecting her cub. She does it out of instinct. We do it out of love. It’s a powerful force – mother’s love. Mothers daily step out of their comfort zone to fight for and protect their children.Recently in the New York Times, James McBride wrote a tribute to one of America’s most notable mothers – former first lady Barbara Bush. Family always came first with her. As her children became adults, she channeled her energies into fighting ignorance and illiteracy for her extended family, the children in America. She knew that literacy and knowledge can change the world. And she wanted to create a better world for her family and ultimately every family alive. She did succeed in bettering the lives of many.
Reflecting on her life makes me think of how proud I am to be a mother. I can relate to her fierce determination to champion not only her children, but others as well. Don’t let anyone tell you that mother’s love is a bond created only at the time of birth. We adopted our two girls, and my mother’s love is as strong today as it was the moment I knew they were mine.
It’s the power of a mother’s love that pushed me to write my book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS.” I realize now that my greatest strength and my greatest vulnerability stem from motherhood. I am a mom—proud, loving and fearless in protecting my children. I thoroughly enjoyed the years of piano lessons, Girl Scouts, camping at the beach, and chasing bubbles and balloons in the backyard. Our summer road trips to national parks, such as Yosemite, Glacier, Yellowstone and Olympic, remain some of my fondest memories.
Motherhood was what kept me going during the years-long barrage of attacks. It also turned out to be my Achilles’ heel. Neighbors and police hurled accusations and employed downright hateful actions against my two daughters. Essentially, the three of us were living in a mental and emotional (and sometime physical) war zone, land mines all around. (You can download part of the story here.) One by one, the girls left, presumably to live where they’d feel safe. They cut off contact with me as well.
I knew I might never see my children again, so I threw myself into my work as a practicing psychologist and healer. I had to do more than survive. I needed to find meaning in my life again. As I tried to make sense of everything, my deductions inspired me to develop the Empathy Dysfunction (EmD) Scale. It’s a tool to help us gauge how much empathy (from a lot to none) is at work in the people who frequent our lives; hence, better know how to interact with them. I didn’t set out with a psychological scale in mind, it just kind of happened. I believe it is my mission to bring you this new way of perceiving how feelings are, or aren’t, shared.
I pray that my daughters, grandson, and I will be reunited—and even live in harmony. It’s ironic that I received a text last year from a young client who said, “You deserve a great Mother’s Day! Your children are darned lucky to have you for a mom.” So to all the mothers out there I want to say, “Don’t ever give up. You can make a difference in the world.”