We all know in our minds that we will likely bury our parents…at least that’s the natural order of things. Somehow, growing up, I always thought my parents would always be there. It didn’t hit me until a few years ago that, no, in fact, they aren’t always going to be there for hugs, advice, to talk with, to smile with, to create new memories together and to do the same with their grandchildren.
I am so incredibly grateful for my mom. I wrote the blog below almost two weeks ago in preparation for posting this Mother’s Day, May 13th, 2012. At the time, my mom was alive. I didn’t realize, at least on a conscious level, she would return home to God before this blog was published. She passed away May 2nd, 2012. As I reviewed this blog today for posting, I noticed how ironic my wording (tense) is. I read this blog below at my mom’s funeral earlier this week.
The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.
When I became a mother and held my baby girl for the first time, I felt a rush of emotions. I was elated, nervous, proud, tired, and scared. My life changed in an instant and I was now responsible for another person. Something I never felt before becoming a mother came oozing from my spirit and soul – Pure Unconditional Love. Mommy radar was now in effect. Wow. I remember her proud father, beaming from ear to ear, counting her fingers and toes. He made sure the correct wrist band was on and followed her anywhere she went outside our room. Responsibility took on a whole new meaning. I’m absolutely certain my parents did the same thing with us:-)
So there we were with this little bundle of joy driving home ever so carefully. They didn’t send us home with a parenting manual. There I was thinking of all the books I read preparing for motherhood. I thought about my mother and realized all the trouble I caused her (not much trouble, mind you!) growing up and how I grew up thinking… “when I have a child, I’m never going to…fill in the blanks.” I thought about all the sewing, baking, volunteering, sleepless nights, worrying, and household things she always did for me. Even now, as an adult with three children (2 of whom are adults), she worried as was there for me. After having surgery late last year and discussing when I was due for my next medication dose, I set my alarm accordingly. My mom was ill, in pain herself and needed her sleep. Little did I know, at 2:00am when my alarm beeped, I rolled over and there she was…in her wheelchair…in the dark… just watching me and she put her hand on my leg. I’m not sure how long she was there. She asked if I was OK and wanted to make sure I got my medication on time so my pain didn’t worsen. We talked a bit, I thanked her and told her I loved her, took my medication and fell back asleep. I felt a pain in my heart like no other that, in that moment, deep down, I wondered how many more times she would be there for me, my sister, my kids and my dad. Nobody can take the place of a mother. Mothers have a special way of making things better. As one of my daughters put it, “There should be a law that mothers can’t die.”
A little more than a year after I got married, at the tender age of 20, I became a mom. Teenage years still fresh in my mind, judgments about my mother were swirling around in my head. I began seeing things in a different light. I recognized and appreciated that everything she said or did came from a place of unconditional love. Having raised three kids now (well – two and 1/2 —my son is almost there), I realize just how important having my mom in my life is. She was always there with a gentle hand, a soft voice, and wise words. Like me, she didn’t have a parenting manual. Without my realizing it, she prepared me to be a responsible adult with good values. She prepared me for motherhood. I have relied on her guidance countless times over the years. In my mind, there is no greater accomplishment on the planet than raising children to be responsible, respectful, loving, happy, productive and contributing adults in society.
“There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one”
– Jill Churchill
I don’t believe any parent has children thinking, “How Can I Screw This Kid Up?” Nobody is perfect and there is no ‘one right way’ to raise children. I am so incredible grateful for my mom. She (and my dad) raised me to be the person I am today.
Now, as her health is declining and the likelihood of many more years with her looks bleak, her legacy lives in me. It lives in my children and will live in her great grandchildren. I think we all want to know we make a difference. We want to leave this physical world knowing and feeling we will be remembered. I see parts of her in me… she is in my genes. She is in some of my mannerisms and in my sense of humor. So, on this day, I give thanks to my mom for her hand prints on my heart, for her tender heart expressed outwardly to everyone she came in contact with, for her incredible strength, for her guidance and her extreme sacrifice. Most of all, I give thanks to her for providing a home full of unconditional love. For the millions of ways you were there for me, I thank you.
When asked what advice my mom would give future family generations, she said: “Always be true to family members. Nurture positive energy. Take time to remember those that have passed. Do your personal best. Take very good care of your health. Celebrate holidays with traditions and gusto. Love yourself and put yourself at the top of your “to do” list. Remember you are making memories all the time. Prepare for the future. Treat people the way you would want them to treat you. Always try to validate others’ emotions and opinions with respect. Lastly, remember that being polite never goes out of style.”
Well Mom, on this beautiful day, I promise you we will do our personal best to follow your sage advice! I miss you already and I love you forever.
Blessings to all Mothers everywhere,
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