To My Sister’s Daughter…

I know you lost your Mama way too soon.  You weren’t ready to let her go.  The cancer was ugly and quick.  You barely had time to say good-05171501bye.   It was over in 5 weeks.  And, really, you had just become a woman yourself.  At that stage of life, who knows to ask their mothers questions of substance?   Does anyone know the right questions when they are 22?  But now…

It’s been almost 13 years and still the loss is like a vacuum at times.   You ask about her often, wanting her sisters, her own mother to fill in the blanks.  We strive to pull buried memories out for you, anything to give you more of her.

11261823_10155610970075002_4317257888302090772_oWe celebrated yesterday because you are about to become a mother yourself.   You thought this long-awaited baby would never snuggle in your arms.   Getting pregnant has been hard.   But here you are 8 weeks from motherhood yourself.   And now, already, you know more about your mother than I could ever tell you.  She treasured you when you were only a heartbeat in her womb.  She rubbed her tummy when she felt you kick that first time — and every time after.  She prayed for you.  She cried when you were born.   She was a good mother.  She loved you more than herself.  And she would do anything for you because that is what mothers do.  You were the reason she didn’t want to go.

Motherhood is a miracle — The act of carrying and birthing a child; even the act of raising a child…  As you love, teach and train, memories will surface at unexpected times.  You will remember your mom through this little boy.   When he skins his knee, something your Mom said to you will come out of your mouth.  When he cries out at night because of a nightmare, you will remember how your Mom comforted you.   It might be a field trip or a walk in the park, but it will most likely be a surprise to you.  A new memory.  And it will be sweet and precious and sad and happy — all at the same time.  Motherhood is like that.

New Mom, Sister and baby's great-grandmothers

New Mom, Sister and baby’s great-grandmothers

One day, your mom will meet this little one.  And in ways that only God knows and understands, it will be as though she has always known him.  One day,  it will be okay.  Until then, I hope you know how much you are loved. We cannot be your mom — no one could take her place.  But her sisters love you like their own.  We pray for you.   We worry about you.   We hold you in our heart.  We will laugh with you and cry with you over all the ups and downs of motherhood.    We already love this little guy.  He, too, holds a part of our heart.

She taught you well — you are going to be a great mother.

I just know it.11265492_10155610982725002_6175137229535611801_o

Motherhood Is Like A Dance: Step In, Step back, Step Out, Step In

Thoughts about mothers and daughters and their relationships consume me these days.  Motherhood is something most of us ask for and wish for; we enter willingly and with anticipation.   We almost go into it lightly and casually.   There should be classes, a degree, or a council of “Wise Old Mothers” to teach, train and warn:

This will be the best thing you ever do. 

This will be the hardest thing you ever do. 

This will be the thing you ALWAYS do. 

Motherhood is forever. 

Motherhood should come with a warning.

But daughters?  Well, we didn’t have much choice in the matter.  But classes along the way might be helpful.  Right about now, I’d take a 0317001517PHD in daughterhood.

I am “sandwiched” between generations — a triple-decker club.  Mother, children and grandchildren.   Nothing really unique about that, I guess, as many women my age share the roles I am playing right now.  But when it is your personal script, the emotions, changes, and role reversals are fresh and new and very complex.

You wonder how the women before you have done this.

And why didn’t you pay better attention.

gochenaurs-4152My youngest child is packing up everything she owns for her last semester of college.  I watch as closets are emptied, books are piled, drawers are scattered.  Emotions run deep.  I am happy for her.   The timing is right.   She has been an easy child.  Wise beyond her years.  Independent.  But there is a sadness too.  She has been away at college for three years, and it’s not like we will be new at this empty nest thing, but this seems final.

Everything she owns.

Wait!  I’m not ready to let her go.  I know I didn’t teach her enough.  I have so much more to say.

But she is an adult now.  Almost 22 years old.  No longer a child.  Roles…changing…

As she packs, my own mother is awaiting admittance to an Assisted Living Facility.  She has been living in my home for 4 months.  I have been her caregiver.   She has had health issues for a year now with one major surgery and then a simple condition that wasn’t diagnosed correctly.  It was missed.  The simple condition turned deadly, and months and months of illness followed which wrecked havoc on her body and her mind.   The issue has finally been addressed, and treated, but her body and mind are slow to recover.  She is now half-well/half-sick.  She was much easier to care for when she was very ill.  She is sick and tired of being sick and tired, and she just wants to go home.  And the doctors have said no.  Each day, it is more challenging to care for her in my home.  I can give her so much, but I cannot give her the one thing she wants — home.

I am trying to care for my mother.  Roles…. changing… reversed….Emotions run deep.

There were 4 children running, playing, and napping in my house yesterday.  It was chaos.  Wonderful, loud chaos.  Snacks. Bottles. Booboos. Squabbles. Diapers. Lunch.  I have the privilege of keeping these grandchildren two days a week, and I love those kiddos like my own.   I try to assume my part as Gramma — and not caregiver — whenever their Mama is around, but sometimes the roles get a little grandkiddosblurred.   I know sometimes I overstep.  Where the heck is that Gramma manual?

That daughter is the mother now.   She gets this season to teach and train.  Roles….

It is amazing to watch your own daughter become a mother.  She seems to do it so naturally.  Is it easier for her or is she wanting a motherhood degree herself now?  She is part of the “sandwich” as her focus is on those children yet she keeps looking back at me.

‘Mom, you doing okay?’  She wants to take care of me.

The dance continues…

Emotions again… running.

 

 

 

 

Am I a Mom or What?

A new chapter has begun.  Not sure how I feel about it yet.  Well, that’s not true. Yes,  I do.  My feelings are raw — like a fresh wound.   I don’t like it at all.  I want to turn back the clock.  I don’t want to go down this road.  I knew this day was coming.  I should have been better prepared. The emotion and tears have actually taken me by surprise. empty nest3 I thought I was ready.   But life has been too busy to worry about it; each day held enough problems of its own.  
 
Now what?  I can’t just sit here.  Or can I?  Who would know…or care?  My girls are thriving.  They are living their lives just as I hoped, dreamed and prayed they would since they were babies.  They are healthy and strong women.  They love me, their family and God.  What more could I ask?
 
The party is mine alone.  My husband doesn’t want to join me.  Hmmm.   Whatever. 
 
My mind knows better.  I am a blessed woman.  So blessed.  But my heart has some catching up to do, and it is being slow to respond.  It feels tired — like it doesn’t want to do its job today.  It wants to find a comfortable cushy chair, hunker down, and stare off into space all day.  Maybe tomorrow too.  Because in reality, it doesn’t feel like it has a job today or tomorrow. 
 
Now what?  How many times have I wished for just this: time to myself.  Time to do exactly what I want to do. And I know that is not even a rational, logical thought.  Because has my 18 year old really needed me to care for her around the clock?  Not hardly.  She has been independent for quite some time.   For years now, I could take a bubble bath at 2:00 in the afternoon if I chose to do so.  So why this lost feeling? 
 
 
Life has been busy.  So busy changing that I have not had time to think.  Changing.  That is an understatement.  Careers. Jobs. Houses. College. Locations.  Yep, lots of change — happening so fast and requiring so much energy that I almost didn’t notice. Until now.  And NOW seems very quiet and strange.   Maybe I’m lost because I have no children, no home, no friends, no town, no church. (remember I said pity party)  I am in limbo in so many areas.   Even getting groceries caused me to pause in the entrance of the store and swallow hard.  I asked myself (like a book I read a couple of years ago) “do I even know what I like to eat?”  And I guess that is it in a nutshell:  what do I like?  who am I?  If I am not a mom, who am I?  Do I know? 


I know I know  I know.  I am still a “mom”.  But I am not mothering.  And for over 32 years, until NOW, I have been daily, actively mothering.  
 
So this new chapter is going to be about figuring out who I am.  Because I cannot depend on my children to define me anymore.  They have lives of their own.  And I want them to thoroughly live their lives without worrying about me and what I’m doing — or not doing.    Who am I?  What do I want to be now that I am  all “grown up” ? 
 
Wow,  I really don’t know.  And it’s kinda scaring me.