I’ve known I wanted to be a mom ever since I was a little girl. I grew up obsessing over Barbies and baby dolls, and I loved the idea of taking care of children and raising them as my own someday. My friends’ younger siblings would follow me around as we’d play house and I’d pretend to be their mom, and the parents in the neighborhood or adults at church would sometimes call me “mother goose.” I have always loved children and they’ve always seemed to love me.
When I married my husband, I was ecstatic about the idea of having a family with him in a few years. But when I was at a point in my life where that dream I had for so long could come true, I couldn’t stop thinking about the one thing that I really wanted the most — my own mother.
When I was nine, my mom passed away from cancer. She was 43. She’s been gone from my life double the years she was in it, but I still remember so much about her. She was extremely selfless and gentle and nurturing, and such a strong female with a powerful presence that gave me a lot of confidence as her daughter, and as a person. She had a lively, excited personality, that everyone says is was what made her such a bright light in their lives. And when people sometimes describe me as the same way to them, I always smile and think, “I got it from my mom.”
Most days, I’m pretty optimistic about her death. I attribute a lot of my positive attitude and seizing every moment and experience in my life to the fact that hers was taken too soon. I like to think I am the way I am because of her death, and that gives me a lot of peace about her absence on my good days.
Yet some days, especially days like Mother’s Day, are the absolute worst. It’s been 18 years and I still find myself crying uncontrollably on that day, hitting the steering wheel, or letting out a scream or two from frustration about her not being here so I can celebrate with her. I think, “God, I miss her.”
Time is certainly the healer of all wounds, as they say, but for anyone who has ever lost a parent — or a child, or a spouse, or good friend — too soon, you know that it never, ever stops being shitty overall. And I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.
While my husband and I discuss having a kid, I’ve heavily reflected on how my mother’s life and death will translate into my own experience as a parent, and my relationship with my child. I’ve questioned how I can give my child what my mom gave me as hers. I’ve even feared the potential reality of me having the same fate as her at her age. But with this, I’ve realized two very important things within my concerns:
I must separate the things I can choose from the things I cannot. I can’t choose when I leave this earth, but I can choose how I give value to my child as their mother for as long as I am here, and give them what she gave me — life. She not only gave me physical life, but internal life in my personality and my heart and my soul, and in every fabric of how I see the world and the way I’ve chosen to live in it. She gave me an immeasurably incredible gift of seeing so much beauty in the world, and used to think that was mostly because of her passing, but I have recently come to terms with the fact that that’s not it anymore.
That’s the second thing I realized… That she still would have given me this gift even if she was still here. It wasn’t just her death that made me who I am; it was truly her that made me who I am. It was her aura and her energy and her ability to be such a strong and caring mother to me. And that’s what never faded.
Because of this, I am confident she is what will make me a great mom someday. And the thought of being able to do that for my own child brings me immense gratitude for who I am and what I will become.