My mother had five of us…Michael, Carolyn, me, Judy and Mark. I am the middle child, middle of five, middle of the girls, and middle everything. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her — five children in eight years — while my father worked evenings, weekends, often 6 or 7 days a week. I can’t imagine what it was like to take care of us, be there for us, keep the house tidy, ensure we were all successful in school. I can’t imagine what it was like when we all left in the morning and she could breathe for a few minutes, but having settled into the chaos, has yet to slow down. The years of raising us, set the pace for the rest of her life. There was always something to worry about, something to clean, someone to help, someone to tell a story to…
Her mother, my Grammy, Rose Nimon, would always start a story with, “You know the story…” but my mother? She starts with, “I can’t remember who I told this story to but…” and she will proceed to tell the story and even if I have heard it before (several times) I listen until she takes a breath and then I say, “I know mom; you told me already.” She always replies, “I can never remember who I told it to…” but I listen because as much I think, here we go, I simultaneously think, what happens when I can’t hear this story again?
Last week we went for a walk and I asked her, “What is it like when your parents are gone?” She couldn’t answer. I remember when Grammy was dying and you made sure her nighties were clean and her lipstick was on. You took care of your mommy until her last breath just as you care for all of us. Now, during the times we are in, as much as we fear losing our loved ones, the bigger fear is not being there when they need us, at their side, as they pass from this world.
We expect so much from our mothers. We hold them accountable for every challenge, every mistake, every doubt we hold in ourselves because our mothers are there — always — at least mine was. She was fiercely protective of all of her children. She could be critical of us, impatient, judgemental, and angry but if anyone else showed any negativity towards us…not only would she take our side, she will hate them forever on our behalf. And if you get in the way of her grandchildren? Gd help you.
When I had my daughter, my first born, two of my friends were there by my side. One of them held Rachel before my mother did. To this day, if her name is mentioned my mother says, “She held my first granddaughter before I did.” She can hold a grudge.
Our mother’s pain defines how she will parent us. Before the world shut down, I attended Classic Rock Albums Live, Pink Floyd The Wall, with an old dear friend and as they played the song, Mother, I was struck by the lyrics which resonated in a completely different way now that I am a mother.
Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry.
Mama’s gonna make all your nightmares come true.
Mama’s gonna put all her fears into you.
Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm.
Ooh baby, ooh baby, ooh baby,
Of course mama’s gonna help build the wall.
What I have come to understand of my mother as I have raised my own children is this…
- My mother’s pain from her own childhood defines how she parents. She will do her very best to be better than her mother was even though her mother did her very best too and all the way back to the beginning of time.
- My mother’s love will protect me whether I have asked for it or not.
- How we understand our mother’s love will change when we become parents ourselves.
- When we realize that parenting is the most important and hardest role we will ever play, we begin to forgive our mother’s humanity.
- The relationship we have with our mothers continues to change throughout our lives — and I have been told, even after they are gone.
- My mother would take my pain any day so that I don’t have to suffer.
- The moment that our mothers see our face drop or our body language change because of something they have said or done, they feel our pain and wish they could have taken those words back.
- In addition to our pain, our mothers feel our joy, our accomplishments, and our fears as if they were their own.
- It is often difficult to separate our emotions from our mothers.
- When we watch our mothers with our children we have the gift of seeing the purity of our mother’s love wrapped around our own children.
- The greatest gifts we can give our mothers are forgiveness, understanding, acceptance and love.
- Oh…and grandchildren so they have the chance to do it all over again with a little less drama. ❤️
Our relationships with our mothers are complicated because they want so much for us and we feel we are often not enough. This is the legacy of girls and women and this cycle must break. We must raise our girls to be who they are meant to be and not what we have not been able to be ourselves.
Mommy, you have made me strong, courageous, loving, and humble. You have taught me to celebrate my gifts and to share them with others. You have shown me the importance of deep loving relationships with girlfriends. You have taught me to share my feelings and thoughts and not hold them inside. You have protected me fiercely against your own demons and have put your fears into me so I can graciously pass those to my own children. At least we keep it interesting…Forever grateful to you.
I LOVE YOU ❤️