For me, the hardest part of parenting was not having my own mother when I became one. I lost her to lung cancer 10 years ago, and I still think of her several times a day. It’s a type of grief that I don’t want rid of — if that makes sense — because it forces me to take better care of myself. Heaven knows (and after months of blogs, you know, too) that I don’t want to leave my children one second sooner than necessary.
The odd thing is that I haven’t quite shifted my thoughts when it comes to Mother’s Day. I think of her, not myself, as a mother deserving of cards, flowers and lunch at The Greenbrier. Even though I have two daughters of my own, the occasion is still reserved in my heart for her…and it’s actually sadder than the day she died.
I’ve read a lot about “orphaned adults” and the milestone moments that our loved ones miss when they pass away early in our lives. John Lennon lost his mother when he was 17. Shelby Lynne also lost her mother at the same age. Madonna lost her mother to cancer when she was five. Paul McCartney’s mother died when he was 14. Ellen Pompeo’s mother died when she was four. In the book, “Good Grief, It’s Mother’s Day,” Peppermint Patty tells Charlie Brown that she bought a Mother’s Day card for her father, since he has to be mom as well as dad.
I don’t attend pity parties often – only for extremely good friends – and I don’t stay long. I’m a happy person and I love to laugh, which is why I miss talking to my mother so much. I want to pick up the phone to tell her about the crazy things that have happened, such as the time I spiked brownies with spinach to make the girls eat vegetables. Or, the trip to Snowshoe that made both girls car sick, and we had to drive from Marlinton to the Village in 30-degree weather…with all four windows down. I wanted to tell her about giving my first born grape Kool-Aid for the first time, and then fearing she was dying the next morning when I changed her Pull-Up. And, of course, having to bind my chest with an Ace bandage when I switched to formula for my daughter’s feedings. Every time I tried to wrap myself, the little clips would fly off and I’d spend 20 minutes looking for them on the floor.
While I’m sure she got a kick out of all this anyway, I still needed to hear her giggle and say, “Honey, I know. I’ve been there.” Looking down from up above, I’m sure she was there for all of those zany moments of motherhood, particularly the early days, when I had no idea what I was doing. But, now that my children are older and I’m experiencing an entirely new set of challenges, I still call on her for a little help. It’s during these moments, though, that I want her to hear me say, “Now I understand.”
Happy Mother’s Day to all of us…everywhere.