On Being a Motherless Mother

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Today marks five years since my mom passed away. Like every single day, I miss her terribly and wish she were here. This year is especially difficult because I am a mother now as well and feel like I am missing out because she isn’t here to experience it with me.

The night before my mom died, I remember thinking a few different things. The first thing that crossed my mind was, How are we ever going to celebrate the holidays again? Thanksgiving is next week. The next thing I thought was, I am never going to have children if it means that she won’t be able to meet them. I swore to myself that there was no way I would ever want to have a baby because my child would never know their nana, and she would never meet her grandchild. I felt this way for a long time, but then my best friend, Christina, gave me some amazing advice that made me change my outlook on the situation.

During my pregnancy, I mostly ignored the fact that my mom wasn’t around. This was especially hard because pretty much every baby book and website tells you to turn to your mom, sister, or aunt when the baby arrives. Also, doctors constantly ask about your mother’s pregnancy and labor, so I was continually having to tell people that she had died several years prior. This always led to looks of sympathy and apologies on their part and lots of awkwardness on my part. I turned to my dad for answers to my questions about my mom’s pregnancy – Did she have a lot of morning sickness? How long did she work? Were there any complications? How long was her labor? Did she have an epidural? What was her recovery like?

Then Baby E was born and the second I looked into her eyes my heart swelled with more love than I have ever known in my whole life. And I finally understood my mother. I realized in that moment that all the times she asked about my day she wasn’t trying to be nosy, she asked because she cared. When she wanted a hug she wasn’t being weird and pushy, she just loved me so much. When she sacrificed things so that I could have something, she did it willingly and without regret.

I miss her now more than ever because I finally understand her. When I sit in the dark with Baby E, rocking her to sleep and holding her little hand, I sometimes cry because I can’t tell my mom how much I appreciate her and everything she did for me. We sit in the chair in the nursery underneath a photo of my great nana, my nana, my mom, and me. I love that photo more than anything because it inspires me to always be as strong and kind and loving as the women who came before me.