Dear Five Faces: I need your help relating to my mother. When I was growing up, she never acted like my friend’s moms; we had no cookies, no cuddles, nothing warm and fuzzy. Instead, we had rules and order in a well-run household of five (she had three children). But now that I’m grown, it seems like she’s trying to connect with my children in a more Earthy way even though she was never an Earth with me! Honestly, I think she was all Metal, which ended up fine for me (except for missing the cookies) since I’m a pretty Metal girl myself. How do I relate to her now in her new role as Earthy grandmother? It’s freaking me out. Signed, Used to a Metal Mom
Dear Used to Metal: This is a great question as it highlights something we haven’t discussed much here and that’s what happens when an element is lacking in someone. “Lacking” means that they were born with that element in a primary (or occasionally, secondary) position but something in their life made it unsafe or undesirable for them to express it. Sometimes, as people age, life shifts enough for them to eventually begin expressing the suppressed element and it can look like they’ve experienced the mother of all changes, no pun intended.
With your mother, I suspect that she might have been born a primary Earth and for some reason in her childhood, it became necessary for her to suppress it. Perhaps her parents were concerned that she was a clingy child (Earths usually need close relationships more than other elements) and chastised her for that behavior. Or maybe organization and process were highly valued in her family so she took on the attributes of Metal (probably her secondary) to win the approval so desired by her Earth. If that behavior was sufficiently reinforced, she well might have carried her Metal approach to life into her mothering since raising a family the “right” way would be very important to both a Metal and an Earth (lacking or not).
Now that you’re grown and are a Metal mother yourself, it might make it feel safer for your own mother to venture into the Earth arena with your children knowing that you will bring the Metal structure for them that she believed was so important. In a way, your ability to create the well-run household might be allowing her to go deeper into her own Earth.
And of course, this will feel very odd to you. As a Metal child, you would have expected Earthy mothering from your mother (Earth feeds Metal), and you might even have resented the lack of cookies and cuddling. But hopefully, your Metal appreciated the structure your mother brought to the family. Your Metal probably also appreciated the lack of suffocating energy directed at you from your mother. Over-involvement and smothering attention can easily happen when there is too much Earth energy in a parenting style.
For now, your children will appreciate an Earthy grandmother, so maybe you can encourage your mother’s Earth around them; it will take some of the pressure off of you, too (unless you are a strong secondary Earth). I also suggest that you celebrate your mother’s ability to begin expressing her true self because it is a healing of sorts for her. And honestly, it can be a healing for you, too. It’s never too late for cookies and cuddles, whether you are Metal or Earth.