Iʼm thinking about my mom today, and most days. She passed away September of last year, somewhat unexpectedly.
Iʼve been told, and would agree, that it takes longer to process the passing of a parent with whom the relationship wasnʼt easy. My relationship with my mother, though full of love, wasnʼt easy at all, not in recent memory anyway.
There were a lot of reasons the relationship was challenging, and I donʼt feel a need to explain or assign blame at this point. I just accept it and accept that it seems to make mourning more acute, more drawn out. Itʼs more than a year and I still spontaneously cry (sob, actually) about this regularly.
What triggers these episodes isn’t so much that I miss my mom, though I do, deeply at times. Itʼs usually a happy memory, and how I simply wish weʼd had more of them in my adult life, how I wish weʼd had time to resolve some things. I think we could have done it with another few years of good health.
But Mom didnʼt get those years of life, so Iʼm left to ponder our relationship on my own. This has me thinking about how I relate with my girls, and what theyʼll remember fondly when Iʼm gone. I hope my girls and I will have a simpler time of it. Weʼre off to a good start despite many challenges (divorce, single parenting, more moves than Iʼd care to admit, among other things).
But I know things can get emotionally complicated as kids get older despite our best efforts, and all I have to go on is my experience with my mom. So what are the things I remember with gratitude? (This is only a partial list, of course.)
-Her sense of humor, totally irreverent. I knew how to make her laugh and absolutely loved doing so. When times were good, my mom and I could share a tear-inducing, belly laugh about the silliest thing. She could be a lot of fun. (…Iʼm sort-of a fun mom. I could be more fun probably.)
-Her knowledge of history. I canʼt even begin to be the encyclopedia of world history my mother was. My girls have to google a lot of things I simply asked my mom growing up. (Iʼm a good speller though, maybe theyʼll appreciate that?)
-Her sense of style. My mother never, ever left the house looking sloppy. Even when her health was failing, she did her hair, she put on make-up and she found some fun accessory to jazz it all up. (I could definitely be a little stronger in this area. I remember my mom imploring me to ʻplease, just wear a little more eyeliner,ʼ… which is good advice really, I do look better when I wear more eyeliner.)
-Books. My mom loved to read, I love to read, my kids love to read and be read to. I think we have this one covered.
Finally, and probably most predictably, what I really remember and am most grateful for is affection. My mom hugged me, she kissed me, she let me lean on her. She had pet names for me that make me smile to this day. I’m thankful this type of thing seems to come naturally to me as well, Iʼm always hugging my kids, and they are pretty generous huggers themselves.
As time goes by and I continue to process my relationship with my mother, could this really be what I remember the most, the good times, the warmth and the love?
I guess parenting, at its most basic level at least, isn’t so complicated after all.