If you ask me to tell you about losing my mother the first thing that comes to my mind is that last morning. The aroma of coffee fills my nostrils and the buzz of a busy morning fills my mind. I was rushing to make my first class at the local junior college on time. I distinctly remember not making the trip up the stairs but instead calling up to her bedroom and saying “goodbye, I love you.” She sleepily replied “Love you too, have a good day!” That was the last time I was able to speak to my mother that didn’t include a prayer. This will be my 12th Mother’s Day without my mother, but there are days it feels like I lost her just moments ago.
There have been many times from the young age of 20 to now being 32 that I’ve wanted my mother to be here more than anything. She wasn’t able to see me obtain my Associates Degree, when I got engaged I couldn’t celebrate with her, and I cannot tell you how many times I thought of her on my wedding day. Even when I think of all of those times I’ve never wanted or needed my mother more than when I became a mom myself.
Throughout my pregnancy, there were countless times that I wished I could ask her about her own pregnancy experiences. In those early days after delivery when you’re not sure if anything you do is right I would have given the world for some guidance and reassurance from my mother. Since my son was born I have said over and over again that I am not sure how my mother did it. There are days when just my son alone gives me a run for my money and the fact that she did it with two premature newborns and a toddler amazes me. I’d do anything to tell her how much I respect what she did as a mother especially in our younger years.
If you are in the trenches of early-years motherhood and you haven’t thanked and praised your mother, please do. If you have, thank and celebrate her again and again. Not just for being a good grandma or a good friend to you as you have entered your season of motherhood but acknowledge those early days and the sacrifices she made for you. Now that you are in it she truly knows you understand and appreciate the weight of motherhood. When you’re having a day where everything is going left pick up the phone and tell your mom one thing she did right. She’ll love to hear your voice and you need to hear hers. You may not have the chance to do it again.
When my son was born I would have given anything for just one opportunity for my mother to have held him, even to just have met him. One of my biggest heartaches as a mother to my son is that he will never get the chance to meet her even if it was just for a moment. While navigating my own journey of motherhood without my mom I find the only way for me to personally combat the grief is to honor her with the effort to be the best mom I can be. I remember my mother having a lot of things she had wished she had done and dreams that remained unfulfilled. I try to honor her spirit by following and pursuing my own passions. I am slowly but surely realizing I can only give my son the best of myself if I am not sacrificing too much of myself. If I sacrifice too much of myself at the altar of motherhood than I have nothing left to give to him. I write, I photograph, we take more walks, we enjoy nature. I recognize what fills me up that my son also enjoys and we spend more time doing those things. If mental health and self care are a priority I can stay present and engaged with him easily. He gets the best of me.
And when the pain of being a mom without my own mother gets to be too much, I pull out old photographs and I talk about her to my son even if he may still be too young to know what I’m saying. He will know about his grandma and her big heart and her love for people even if he will never meet her. He will proudly be able to say where he gets the red tint in his hair when the sunlight hits it just right and his empathetic personality. And I’ll keep getting out her photographs until he’s grown and he knows as much about her as I was able to learn in the twenty years she was loaned to me.