Thursday, May 9, 2013

Being A Motherless Mother

Snuggling with Diana - May 2013

With Mother's Day coming up, I am thinking a LOT about my dear sweet mother.  As I've said many times, she was the closest thing to an angel I'll ever know. Now that I am a mother, I have such a different understanding and appreciation for my mom - and it turns out that I am not the only one.  In the past two days, I read two awesome posts about Mother's Day/motherhood that I want to share:

In the first, Maggie Lamon Simone talks about how she fought becoming her mother for years - and now, it's all she wants to be.  I can completely relate to feeling like that.  As a teen, and in my early 20's, I was often dismissive, mean, and full of contempt to a woman that never showed me anything but love, patience and faith.  These days, I just hope to be half of the woman and mother she was.

Maggie was, too:  "My mom is patient and loving and trusting, even toward some who seemed undeserving, and as a result I thought her blind. She is devoted, even to a husband who had demons enough for both of them, and I thought her weak. She has an implicit faith and almost spiritual innocence usually reserved for children, even when faced with unimaginable loss, and I thought her naïve. 

And she has a commitment to her family and her life that, unbelievably, I found limiting. She is secure and beautiful and strong, and I misread it all.

What I mistook for blindness was the most profound patience and ability to forgive that I have ever witnessed. I thanked her by doing every possible wrong thing, taking every possible wrong turn, learning every possible lesson the hard way -- academically, romantically, alcoholically -- almost daring her to turn away from me. She never did.

What I mistook for naivete was, in fact, the kind of unquestioning faith in God, in herself and in others that I now envy. I thanked her by not believing in anything, not even myself."

In the second, Claire Bidwell Smith talks about being a motherless mother.  Now that she has children of her own, she feels reconnected to her own mother in ways she never anticipated - and that's my experience, as well.   I can actually feel my mother coming through me as I start to navigate the waters of parenthood with Diana.

Claire writes:  "And in this wildly unexpected way, I feel as though I have been given my mother back. Time and time again, I hear her voice in mine, I feel her hand in mine. She is there with me when I'm teaching Vera how to bake cookies, or when I'm up in the middle of another sleepless night, cradling my smallest. 

It's not even that I feel like she's been given back to me, but that my mother has been given to me anew. I understand her in a way I never did before. I see her in a way I never did. When I tuck my girls into bed at night, when I smooth Vera's hair away from her forehead when she has a fever, or scoop Juliette into my arms after a tumble, my heart spilling over for them, I often find myself breathless with the realization of just how much my mother loved me. 

They will never know her the way I did. They will never call her grandma or experience any of her mischievous adventures. They will never get care packages in the mail from her or cook with her in the kitchen as I did. But they will know her in the way that I love them, in the way that I see them and hear them and name them."

In small ways, every day, I am starting to like I know my mom more than I ever did, and it makes me sad and grateful at the same time.  It's complicated to be a motherless mother.  Honestly, I hate being part of this club, but it is comforting to know that I am not alone. 

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