No matter what your relationship with your mother, you will miss her when she dies.The ache is doubled if your mother was like mine, with whom I felt connected, accepted and respected. Mildred has been gone for six years now. I still want to call her when I feel up or down.Motherhood for Mildred was not about if her children made her look good or feel good. I never remember her saying, “I’m proud of you.” Her objective was not how she felt/thought/looked about us, but how we felt/thought/looked.
Parental pride/praise sends the silent virulent message of, “I love you best when you make me look good and feel good. Don’t let me down.” Praise and pride can motivate children to achieve for parents. One unfortunate outcome of parental pride is for a young person to choose a career parents want, which eventually lands them in the psychiatrist’s office, miserable.
Without the risk of “letting Mom down,” it freed me to call her when I had been fired from a job, yelled at my kids or fought with my spouse. She held me in failure and celebrated my joys. I long to call or visit her one more time, to bask in that kind of connection, acceptance and mutual respect.
My parents never referred to their posse of grown children as “the kids,” a common practice, often justified because “You’re younger than us.” Yuck — what a barrier that sentiment erects. One of the most difficult aspects of motherhood is knowing and seeing we are setting up lifelong habits and forming personalities. Ugh! What a responsibility — and opportunity.
My mother mastered the art of encouragement. She stayed out of our way and let us find our own way. Five of us have our own businesses. We all have high degrees of internal motivation, thanks to the chores we were expected to do, that taught us self-discipline.
Mildred specialized in listening with an open heart and asking questions. Questions pointed my needle in the right direction.”What do you think? How did that happen? What are you going to do next?” I trusted her to listen objectively, not make me wrong, or risk disappointing her. When whining about my marriage [what marriage is perfect?] she inevitably sided with Bob, much to my annoyance. She was usually right, too, because I had failed to manage my emotions around whatever petty annoyances.
Even though her parents had been dead for years, Mildred often said, “My parents are with me every day.” I scoffed at that sentiment when she was still alive, and like much of her wisdom, I’ve come find out she was right.
Mom, you’re with me every day. Thanks for everything. I love you and miss you.