Remembering all mother’s this Mother’s Day
As Mother ‘s Day approaches, my thoughts turn to the one who has held me, in one sense or another, since I was a cluster of cells within her womb. Even as a grown woman in my 50’s, her mother role persists. When I’m worried or upset, I can hold it together until I hear my mothers voice on the end of the phone, and instantaneously find myself weeping like a lost teenager.
At 87, there is not much she needs or wants. As many in their’ 80’s she has encountered various health challenges and so far has rallied against them. However, with every year, the reality of her death, sits visibly in my line of vision. It is inevitable for us all I know. My relationship with my mother is simultaneously the most simple and complex. My love for her is immense. I also, have harboured the most judgemental and harsh feeling and thoughts towards and about her. And, I am sorry for these times.
I turn my thoughts to those who have already been initiated; the children whose mothers died too young. I remember some years ago seeing an interview with Bob Geldof, who talked about the death of his mother when he was 7. He described how a 7 year old doesn’t really know what forever means. Its when he graduated school, got his first record deal, when he met his wife, when he had his first child… this is when he truly understood that his mother was gone forever and what that really meant. A mother’s death permeates every life event moving forward.
I watched a friend struggle with her own motherhood, having lost her mum at 7. Having been reared by her dad, her memories of being mothered were sketchy. As her eldest reached her 7th year, her grief for her own 7year old self’s experience caught her by surprise. This identification across the generation can be common and is a perfectly natural grief response. It can also be a healing experience as my friend found out. Realising how young she had been when she took on the domestic responsibilities left by her mother’s absence, she finally had a moment of compassion for her younger self and realised the unfair expectations she had ingested for herself, and what an incredible burden she had bourne.
A mothers death changes the landscape, changes the game
Often, mother is the heart and hearth of the family. When my mother dies, I’m not sure what will happen to my family. We are nearly all in our 50’s and beyond, with children of our own ranging from pre-tween to adults. We congregate around my mother. She is our touchstone. The sibling rifts seem to have become a little larger and more solidified as we have all aged. What will happen when she is no longer there to beacon us to neutral territory?
Recently, I sat with a young teenager boy who had lost his beloved mother. He was deep in his grief. When his mother died it coincided with the older sibling leaving home. His family halved. He was grieving not only the loss of his mother but also his family as he had known it. Everything changed and there was nothing of the old to hang on to. As nothing was ever going to be the same; and in a bid to find new beginnings, he wanted his father and himself to move to a smaller house and create something new. His father, lost in his own grief, wanted to hold on to the only thing he had left of his childhood sweetheart, he could not bear to leave the place that held so many memories.
When my 7 year old daughter expresses her fear of ‘what will happen if you die mummy?’, I will give her an extra squeeze and reassure her that I will always be in her heart.
All deaths can be devastating. This mothers day I’m thinking of all the children growing up without their mother; of the adults who lost their mother young; of the adult children whose mother saw them reach some milestones and not others. I am appreciative that I still have my mother to hug, to tell how much I love her and how grateful I am.
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