This is always a particularly hard time of year for me. My mother passed away on July 7, 2004. This year is even more difficult as it marks 10 years since she left us. It is amazing how ten years can seem like an eternity and yet, at the same time, like a blink of an eye. So much has happened, and yet, so much has remained unchanged.
There are many things that I wish I had done differently when she was alive. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 and I try not to dwell on what I would change if I had a chance for a do-over.
But there is one thing that I wish I had been able to experience while she was alive and that is motherhood. I don’t think you truly understand what it is to have a child, to love a child, to sacrifice all that you are and all that you have for your child’s happiness, until you actually have a child. And I think once you understand it, once you feel it in your soul, you can better appreciate your own mother and the sacrifices she made for you.
As a kid, I was the “rebellious” one. I say rebellious but I really wasn’t. I was always at the top of my class, didn’t date until my 20’s, didn’t drink or do drugs, and had a decent group of friends. But I had a lot of drive and ambition and I don’t think my parents knew what to do with that.
My mother and I didn’t have a good relationship when I was younger either. Of course, as I look back, we were very similar so of course we butted heads. But in my mind, she didn’t treat me the same way she did my brother and sister. She didn’t take care of me the same way. She didn’t worry about me as much as she did them. And to me, this was all proof that she didn’t love me as much.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
What I mistook as ambivalence was actually trust in my abilities. What I mistook as a lack of love was in fact confidence that I would thrive without her constant guidance. I was fine and she knew it, so she didn’t bother worrying about me.
And there were times that she did worry about me but I never found out until after she had passed away. My mother was not a touchy-feely kind of woman. She didn’t hug. She didn’t cry and she rarely said, “I love you”. I remember on my wedding day, she looked me up and down, smiled and told me I looked nice while my father stood sobbing beside her. But after she died, several of her friends told me she had confided in them about her fears for me. She was worried that I wouldn’t conceive as I was struggling with infertility at the time and she told them that she was worried about what the MS was going to do to me. She never told me any of this. She just always said that she knew I was going to be fine.
It all makes sense to me now that I am a mother and I see my children. I see my two boys each with very different needs, different personalities and different ideas. I love them both equally and differently at the same time. My love is unconditional. It knows no bounds, no limits.
I wish I had understood all of this when she was alive. I would have appreciated her so much more. I would have let go of my resentment and accepted that she gave me exactly what I needed when I needed it, even though I didn’t realize it.
In the end, we had a good relationship. We grew closer in her final years. She knew I loved her and I know she loved me, probably more than I will ever truly understand. Of course she did – she was my mother.