Because of those comments, I’m going to talk about my Mom, and where I am now going on 5 years without her (5 years in July).
Tonight this post has 100 comments. Some of those are replies that I’ve left in response to others, but still… 100 comments.
When I wrote it in March of 2007, I never dreamed that it would strike such a chord. I never imagined that 3 years later I would still be getting comments in my inbox that make me cry. I never dreamed I would be given the privilege to bear witness in some small way to so many people’s stories. When I hit the post button, I remember feeling like I was maybe being a little ranty and wondering if anyone out there would ‘get it’ and know where I was coming from. So many people did. I think, honestly, that of all the words I’ve ever written, I’m proudest–or maybe more accurately, most grateful–for that post. I’m so grateful that a community sprang up. I’m so grateful to know that I’m not alone in my feelings. I’m so grateful that hopefully, hopefully other people feel a little less alone in theirs.
I wrote a bunch of posts back then that I tagged with ‘Motherless Daughter.’ I got the term from Hope Edelman’s books about Motherloss. But the more I think about that term, the less I like it lately. I am NOT Motherless. My mother is dead, but she is still my mother, and she always will be. I am a girl with an AMAZING Mom. My relationship with her wasn’t perfect. I took her for granted far too often. She wasn’t perfect. She didn’t fit the mold of ‘Mommy perfection’ held up as the ideal today: She swore in front of me. She gave me fruit roll-ups as bribes to brush my teeth–often immediately after brushing them. She yelled sometimes. And she told me to tell people to F*** off. BUT, she gave me the tools to survive without her way before I should have had to. She gave me strength. She gave me enough courage to know that even when I’m struggling, I am strong. She taught me to value real people, people who work hard but who are a little rough around the edges. She gave me a love of chocolate and of cake and of cheese. She WAS a fantastic mother. And I am NOT Motherless.
Last week I had a string of days where I couldn’t help but think, “I still really NEED my Mom right now. Where is she?” I still miss her. The memories have become less painful and more sustaining. And I find myself just grateful that she was even if she’s no longer here with me now. But I still NEED her. I still MISS her. I still GRIEVE her, even if I am not usually still in active mourning for her loss. When I’m sad and want to talk things through with someone I still long for her. When I’m sick I still want to be babied by her. I still long to ask her how she really felt about the act of mothering (I know she loved BEING a Mom, but I want to know about her feelings in the nitty-gritty of it), and whether or not she ever went through depression, diagnosed or otherwise. I want to compare my experiences to hers. I want to see how we are alike and different. And I long for her support, and her voice, her wisdom, and her ability to interpret people and circumstances for me in ways that gave me tremendous perspective.
So here I am 4 1/2 years later: A lot of times I feel like in losing her I’ve lost my compass, but I do my best to follow the voice of the only One who can direct my path. I struggle with depression, and apparently not just Postpartum. I get lost in the mundanities and overwhelmed by the inane. But even still, I know that I am strong. I nurture others as she nurtured me. I do my best by my own girls and pray like mad that in the end the balance sheet will show that I mothered them in a good way that helped them to get to know and to trust the voice inside themselves, and that my heart led theirs closer to their Father and Creator. And as for the other side of that balance sheet, I pray like mad that God will fill in my gaps. I feel so lost, so much of the time, but I keep walking with faith believing that I am where He wants me. On the days that I feel desperate for my mother, and desperate to be mothered I cry out to God to mother me.
I am still a young adult who grieves for and misses her mother. But I go on. And life is hard. Very hard most days for one reason or another (and very few of those reasons are ever good ones), but it is also so very, very good. And I hope I still make her proud.