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This April marks ten years since my mom passed away. It was in 2008 and right before I was to graduate high school. I can’t even begin to describe how devastating this was for me.
I have had to experience a lot of milestones in life without my mom: Senior Prom, High School graduation, moving into college, my first boyfriend, later marrying said boyfriend, having babies, and raising children. These are just the big events in my life where I have missed and needed her. There are also all the heartbreaking times like my miscarriages, times where me and my husband are fighting, or the times where I get really sick and I still want my momma. All of these are tough but the hardest thing by far has been trying to become a momma without my momma.
When my first, Emery, was born I was so emotional leading up to it. My mom wasn’t going to be there and my daughter would never know her. This pain manifested in ways that made me bitter to where didn’t even want my husbands mom near Emery when she was born. This definitely wasn’t healthy. I just didn’t know how I was to become a momma when my example was gone.
My mom always did this thing when one of my sisters had a baby. She would be there for the birth and then stay a week after to help with the transition and take care of them. I wasn’t going to have that.I did have a good back up however, my sisters. They came through for me big time on this!But who was I going to call when I couldn’t figure out why Emery won’t stop screaming, or when it comes time to start feeding her food what do I feed her and how much.? What about all the other details like how to sleep train, potty train, and all the things I need to teach her to be able to tackle life as she grows and changes?
My mom taught me a lot of things growing up like how to tie my shoes, how to be respectful to adults, how to work hard at everything you do and how to trust in God with all your heart. All of these things are important but the one thing she never taught me was how to live without her.
I learned a few things through these past four and a half years of mommahood without my momma to help me cope and become the best mom I can be.
When we lose our mothers we learn a few things through that grief. 1.We learn how strong we really are 2. you will always need your mom but you get used to her not being there 3. you will find out how resilient you really are and 4. you will learn to be there for yourself. That last part can be a bit unhealthy. I held everything in and thought no one could understand me or help me the way my mom could. I mean how could they? They weren’t hormonally programmed to. So it was a slow process for me but I learned to admit I can’t do everything on my own and that I don’t know everything. It’s okay not to know everything the instant you become a mom. We don’t magically know all the answers once our baby is born. Once I began admitting I needed help and more importantly ACCEPTING that help, my life and my grief became easier.
In no way does anyone replace your mom but other moms can help give you insight. For me this came mostly from my two sisters. Between the two of them I feel like I was set alright. My sister Shannon is my go-to pediatrician for literally anything and she is as close to my mother as I can get when it comes to parenting. She parents a lot like her and not to mention, she was 18 when I was born. My sister Kim is my calm and voice of reason, and both fill voids of motherly wisdom and praise. So even though it’s not your mother, having other moms walk along side you can help.
He may not understand what you’re going through but he understands how hard being a parent for the first time is. I mean, he is going through first time parenting with you. Learn to talk through what you/re feeling emotionally with him and allow him to help when and where he can with your baby. Allow him to comfort you and take care of you from time to time. As mommas we feel we have to uphold the image of being strong and that we can do it all ourselves.We are strong but we have a life partner there to help hold us up when we can’t manage to.
I would not have been able to survive my momma’s death if I didn’t have my faith. My mom was a very quiet introvert but she taught me silent strength and how to stay strong in your faith in tough times. She showed me how to show the love of Christ to others without needing praise for it. She taught me the greatest gift you can share with your kids is Jesus. These are the things I will pass to my kids. This is part of the legacy she left to me and I will share this gift daily with my kids. I want them to see Jesus in their momma just as I saw Him in mine.
Another thing that my mom left me that I know I can give to my kids is presence. Be there. Be active. love unconditionally. All those other details and questions of mommahood pale in comparison to this. I never doubted if my mom loved me or cared about what I was interested in. I never doubted if she was proud of me. This is one of the greatest gifts I could give my children. So I will be present and constantly let my kids know how much I love them and how proud of them I am.
As hard as it is to go through mommahood without my momma, these five things have helped me survive. My kids may never physically meet their Nana but they will know who she is through me and through the legacy she’s left for me to pass on to them. So if you’re trying to figure this mommahood thing out without your mom just admit you may need some help, rely on others and your husband, depend on your faith, and be so so present in the life of your kids.
With Grace and Gumption,