This week is the 35th anniversary of my mother’s death.
I thought about writing a nice memorial post for the anniversary; it seems important to not just let it slip by, unwritten. Even though my mother has long passed, I’ve always maintained a sort of internal lifelong vigil for her. But how to write the snippets of secondhand information that I have into a memorial for a person I never knew? I put a lot of thought into what to say and drew just as many blanks. I mean, what I know of her can be written in only a few sentences. After that, the main thing that surfaced were my own attitudes toward motherhood.
On My Mama:
From what I’ve pieced together of my mother, she was kindhearted, loyal, and loved us all a whole lot. In pictures she was always beaming; vivacious is a good description. A person who truly LIVED her life.
Her dream was to have 6 children and be a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom. She had 4 of those 6 children and spent her entire marriage as a pastor’s wife and as a SAHM, so in some ways I think her dreams were fulfilled.
A form of cancer took her life at 30 years old.
I often wonder how my father, my siblings, and I would’ve turned out, had she lived… How radically different each of our lives would be.
I don’t often talk about my mother—in real life as well as on this blog. Her death has always been a fact of my life so in a way I don’t particularly “feel” the loss. Even so, I’ve always felt off kilter somehow: like there’s this universal mother thing that the rest of the world knows about, but I totally don’t get it.
This is a good place to mention that the words “mom,” “mommy,” “mothering,” and “motherhood” fundamentally upset me. Hearing those words causes me to feel… slightly angry, actually. I’ve never examined deeply the psychological reasons behind this—I suppose the reasons are fairly obvious. But I have really terrible connotations of motherhood. My therapist would have a lifelong client if I ever let her get into this subject with me!
That leaves the $65,00 question: Why do I want to be a mama (remember: not a mother, a mom, or a mommy)? I question my own maternal desire: I’m adverse to the “M-word” and I haven’t a clue to how mama someone. Is my wanting a baby a way to carry on her legacy? a simple biological urge? an effort to right a childhood wrong? Un-fun thinking, this is. Thinking to be put off for another day….
Sometimes I consider whether it’s been for the best that Jake and I haven’t had children. I fear that some key element that it takes to be a mama is missing from me. I have a genuine concern that my mama style will be unfeeling, aloof, distant. I must trust that mama-ing is instinctual, and that God will provide me whatever link is missing when my time comes.
These are my thoughts on motherhood—the real, ugly parts of it.
In Conclusion: My mother loved Jesus with all her heart, and I’m confident that she is in Heaven with Him. I hope that He allows her to glimpse down at our lives now and then; there’s no way to know this side of life if that’s true.
Those of you who’ve also lost a parent during infancy/childhood, know that you’re not alone; we may be a small club, but we’re not the only member.