on being a motherless mother rockanddrool.com

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, a day that 5 years after my mom’s death…it just hasn’t gotten all that much easier to celebrate. The same as any other day now.

You see, my mom…she taught me a lot of things. By observing her, I learned how I wanted and didn’t want to mother my own children. I try to be to my children what my mother was to me. Present. In every possible way a mother is supposed to be. Because she was. Always. Present.

Until she wasn’t.

The parenting I learned from my mom, both the good and the bad, were the most important lessons given to me. And though my interpretation of them, I try to instill these very same lessons onto my children.

Where my mother was selfish, I try to be selfless because for some things I don’t want my children to ever feel the way I felt. Stupid, materialistic things, probably. But to a teenager, these were big deals that didn’t help an insecure girl gain an ounce of self-confidence. There was no lasting grudge. Instead, it forced me to get a job as soon as I could so I was able to buy my own clothes. Which, I suppose, was the lesson. Things shouldn’t come easy, sometimes you have to earn what you want beyond the essentials.

I’ll tell you one thing, it helped me to appreciate and value the things I have.

However, I didn’t want to do that to my kids. I didn’t want it to be that hard for them. So, I went the extreme opposite. I guess that was one lesson that didn’t stick and I have a few spoiled kids to prove it. But, they are fantastic in other ways so it all evens out.

I watched my mother become an entrepreneur. She went from housewife to successful antique dealer who sold some of her stuff to the stars. And, she left a lot of pretties for my sister and me to play with. I truly believe it was her that awakened the entrepreneur spirit that is so strong within me.

She made sure to listen and advise when we needed her. And, even when we didn’t need her to. She was our advocate, fan, and disciplinarian. We knew when we were doing something right. We also were made very aware of when we were doing something not right. It was her words of wisdom we sought when navigating childhood on up. She was so smart and her mind so sharp, she always knew exactly what it was we needed to hear, even if we didn’t appreciate it at that moment.

She epitomized the ‘helicopter mom’ so I tried to tone it down with my kids. But, they’d probably tell you I’m more like a drone than a helicopter. What can I say, I feel like their business is my business so I make it my business to know their business. If you know what I mean.

I carry what was taught to me in my heart. And, I pull it on a daily basis when dealing with my children. I don’t know if I’m the kind of role model my mom was, I hope maybe just a little bit.

The one thing, however, that my mother never bothered teaching me or my sister is how to be mothers and women without her. She never explained to us how to be motherless. And, we never asked. Because, even after a massive heart attack that would have killed many other people, she survived. Not only did she survive, she surpassed her expected life expectancy by decades.

So, we didn’t imagine there would truly be a need to know what to do when she wasn’t around. She was a survivor. She was always there. Present.

And now, here I am. A motherless mother. As my children get older, I have questions that only a mother can answer when it comes to dealing with older children issues. So I wing it, wondering if how I handle my children is equal to what she would have told me to do.

I wasn’t emotionally equipped to be motherless.

I don’t think that, even if she had really prepared us differently, it would have mattered all that much.

There will always be events or just little ‘things’ that come along where a girl/woman child needs their mom.

That space, one so large and gaping…it will never again be occupied.

It will always be there.

Empty.

And there’s just no way to really and truly reconcile that.

But, she leaves the legacy of her words and actions and I’m doing the best I can do with what I’ve got.

She guided me as far and as long as she could. It wasn’t enough.

But, would it ever have been enough?

No, of course not.

I’m eternally grateful that I had the mom I did because she shaped me into the person I am. I don’t think she did a bad job. And, I know. Someday I’ll see her again. Allegedly.

Sometimes, if I listen, I can hear her.

When I am floundering for words, I hear hers.

And, I repeat those words to my own children who are looking at me expectantly, waiting for the advice they are seeking.

I suppose, in a small way, that means she’s still here.

Present.

And, I also suppose, in a not so small way…

That through her words, that was her way of preparing us to live a life without her.

It doesn’t change the fact that she is so, so terribly, heart-breakeningly missed.