Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lessons From My Mothers

For many years after my mom's death, I absolutely hated Mother's Day.  I walked around town feeling jealous of my friends (and strangers) who had mothers.  To be honest, I still find myself sometimes feeling that way.

I have friends who are definitely caught in the "sandwich generation".    They have busy lives themselves but still have to regularly go to their moms' homes to do the daily activities - cooking, cleaning, errands - that their moms can no longer do.

It is a burden - an extra job - to take care of an elderly momma, but it is a burden that I would give my eye teeth to have.

I can get into a really pissy mood over this.  I can focus on the fact that my mom didn't even make it to "elderly".  I can feel sorry for my kids who don't remember ever having a grandma.   I can have a pity party that by the time I was 37, I didn't have parents or siblings.

And you ain't been to a pity party 'til you've been to one of mine........

I hurt for some of my friends who have recently lost their moms.  I know the pain that tomorrow will bring.  When I was in the middle of that pain, I didn't think it would ever get any better.  But it does.
For years after my mom died, I couldn't pull myself out of the special grief that comes on this day that we (with the help of Hallmark marketing) have set aside to honor mothers.  But it's been 23 years.   It's been long enough that now I don't hurt.  I miss my mom but I can say that without pain, without grief, without the need to cry.

I wish she had been around longer.  I wish Tyler hadn't had to experience her fairly ugly death when he was five.  I wish Nina had known the person that she is named after.  I would have liked to show my mom that I survived Charlie leaving me.  I would have liked to have an opportunity to take care of her in her old age - like she took care of me when I was a child.   I would like to be able to talk to my mom about Tyler and have her give me advice about how to help him.  I would like to be sitting here writing a blog about how I'm celebrating Mother's Day with my mom.

But none of that was meant to be.

So...... right now I want to focus on some of the other mothers in my life.  "Mothering" is a verb that isn't exclusive to the woman who raised you.  The word isn't even exclusive to a woman older than you.  I have been mothered by many women - and some men.  And I'd like to honor them on this Mother's Day.

Here's a list of some of the mothers in my life and some of the lessons that they taught me:

Aunt Sissy - Aunt Sissy taught me the importance of singing in the mornings.

Billie Jean - Aunt Billie Jean teaches me that you can really and truly make lemonade when life gives you lemons.

Carol Jean - Carol Jean taught me a lot about how to live - and how to die.

Donna - Donna teaches me to be my children's champion - even when I don't agree.

Karen - Karen reminds me of the lessons learned by working the Twelve Steps - just like my momma used to.

Charlie - Charlie (when he was the man I was married to - before he morphed into another person) was able to hold me like a mom.  I know that sounds weird but he was able to hold me in an intimate, but nonsexual, way.   When I am in pain and need physical nurturing, my friends can hug me but not hold me.  You know the difference?  Charlie had that gift.

Nina - My daughter, Nina, continues to teach me right from wrong.  And she knows more about boundaries that anybody I know.

I thank God for continuing to give me people in my life to 'mother' me.  And I hope that I'm able to fulfill that role in the lives of those who need me.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone...

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