This is a picture of my mom on my wedding day, almost 33 years ago. I love this picture, she was so happy that day. You would never know by looking at her that she was still actively grieving from the loss of my father, the love of her life, two and a half years earlier. It would take her several more years to find her emotional footing, and in spite of other tragedies since, she never really seemed to lose it again.
I didn’t appreciate any of this in my mom until I became a mother myself. In retrospect, our journeys had some interesting similarities. We both experienced the delight and challenge of raising four kids born within a span of six years. We balanced career and family pretty successfully. We created a rhythm of home life that allowed our children to feel secure and cared for. And based on a recent conversation with her, we shared the awareness that arises over time that, as a mom, episodes of cluelessness and vulnerability are unavoidable.
As the daughter of an aging mother, it is easy for me to focus on the problems that arise and the effort required to keep things from going off the rails. Because my default move is to try to solve anyone and everyone’s problems, it is a regular challenge for me to take over ‘just enough’ without robbing my mom of her dignity. I am trying to slow down and breathe when my inclination is to run and fix, and to let the annoyance that arises when she once again writes a check to Publishers Clearinghouse for something she did not buy, or forgets to tell her doctor to address an ongoing medical concern, soften into tenderness instead.
At 81, my mom doesn’t need much. Well, actually she would like to win big at the casino, but she’s not counting on that. So my gift to her this Mother’s Day is a commitment to keep my eyes open to her wonderfulness and my heart full of the love.