When I was 17 (and she was 46) my mother died suddenly. (My father died the next day.) It was one of the most difficult times of my life. I still choke up, just thinking about it. And I still cry and mourn my loss.
When I got married, it was really tough. I had friends who loved me like family and helped fill the gap for me.
But when I got pregnant, nothing prepared me for how sharp the pain would be. I had done my best to grieve over the years and I was surprised by how raw it still felt. I was angry too, that my joyful pregnancy was somewhat dulled with this nagging ache. I thought I had worked through all this before! I didn’t want to hurt anymore. I didn’t want to feel it.
Partly it was my surprise- the grief sneaked up on me. I thought it was behind me. It had been almost 13 years and I had become very independent. I learned how to rely on myself. And I couldn’t rely on myself to hold it together now. Now I just wanted my mom.
I wanted to ask all the questions I had never thought to ask: about her pregnancy with me, her labor, parenting. (A typical teen, I thought I knew everything then- I’d never asked.) I wonder now what it might be like to call my mother and talk about my wonderful children.
Being a motherless daughter (and finding Hope Edelman’s book) shaped much of my adult life. And being a motherless mother shapes who I am as a mother. In some ways I am more present, because I value every moment like it might be the last. But living on that edge (and doubting the future) is precarious and I’ve chosen to consciously move from there to more solid ground.
As a motherless mother, I’ve learned to adapt. I learned so much about opening to love through mothering. I didn’t know how much of my self I had closed off until my daughters began to open me up. It doesn’t hurt to love. It hurts to resist love.
I’m no longer aching, but I will continue to grieve- probably for the rest of my life. And when I get choked up I allow the tears, and I allow myself to love.
Read Full Post »
Somehow I always thought I’d be a mother of sons. I was a bit of a tomboy for much of my life and also relate to the directness of men. When I was younger, I usually had male friends and I didn’t always get along with women.
And here I am, raising daughters.
I’m learning over the years more about women- and about being a woman among women. I learned that I held myself apart because I considered most women adversaries. I learned that much of life/society is constructed in a way to inspire me to challenge other women, rather than support them. I also figured out that men were easier to manipulate and women called me on my $h*% which I didn’t like very much back then. But I’m starting to see how supportive that really is.
And now, I’m learning to see the world in a new way, as I consider my old ideas to decide if they are worthy of my daughters.
My girls like to dress up like princesses. How does a mother battle against the tired cliche of “damsel rescued by prince”? Very carefully, I’m learning. Because they “know” the story already. I can only add that I’m sure Cinderella might have done just fine if she had seen how talented she was and applied for a job somewhere. I can introduce new stories where brave girls take brave action.
And maybe more important that the entertainment they view (which is purposely limited), is listening to how they see their world. I encourage them to talk freely about what they are experiencing, even if they are mad at me or their dad. I want them to be comfortable voicing the truth, their truth, and comfortable accepting their strength as individuals within our family group.
I want them to learn to trust what is inside (passions, intuition, intelligence, self-esteem) as more significant and important than what is presented from the outside. And so I need to take this lesson to heart. I spend my quiet time remembering the truth of who I am, who I want to be, and bringing all aspects of myself together in the best way I can. I am teaching my girls to love and accept themselves by honoring who I am in each moment.
Read Full Post »