First, I would like to put in a shameless, nepotistic plug for my cousin Kristina. She's brilliant, I've always admired her, and she's just started a new blog over at Mama Writes.
Thanks to her blog, I've been introduced to an author by the name of Hope Edelman. She's written two books on the topic of mother loss, and I just got the book Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss from the library.
I've mentioned before that my mother died when I was about three years old. She had pancreatic cancer. Not a day goes by when I don't think of her—wonder what she was like or what I could share with her about my life. I want her to meet my wonderful husband. I want her to meet my son and tell me that he's the cutest thing she's ever seen. I want her to tell me I've done well in life. Just stuff like that. Even though I have no memory of her, her death may be one of the most defining events in my life. Actually, maybe it's a defining event because I have no memory of her. Difficult to say. It's hard to go through life and know so very little about this woman who means so much to me.
Something else I've mentioned before is that I've been afraid of my 30s. My mom was only 31 when she died. I turned 31 last year. This birthday was looming over me, along with the rest of my 30s, because I was sure I was going to die young. Because, clearly, I'd get cancer young, too, and I'd leave my son without a mother, too. Of course.
And even if I was around to be a mother to my son, I'd be a terrible one. How could I love him like a mother when I have no idea what a mother's love looks like? Feels like? I don't know how a mother acts with her kid because mine was gone too soon. How am I supposed to do this? Certainly I am unqualified for this position.
Those thoughts made me feel insane. What kind of person thinks about these things?
And then I started reading Hope Edelman's book.
Apparently lots of women who have lost their mothers have the exact same thoughts. When they approach the age at which their mothers died, they think about their own mortality and assume they're going to die young, too.
It's not just me.
And they also assume they'll be terrible mothers, especially ones who lost their mothers at a very early age. They don't know how they'll teach a child things they never learned from their own mother. They're unsure of what a mother-child relationship really looks like.
It's not just me.
There is something so comforting in knowing I'm not alone. I suddenly don't feel crazy. I suddenly feel like a burden has been lifted off of my heart—the burden of feeling like an idiot when I share with my husband all of my fears of dying young and of being a lousy mother. He doesn't think I'm an idiot, but he can't relate. He still has both of his parents.
I don't know why I assumed no one felt like I did. That no one had these same thoughts. Other women have lost their mothers at a young age, so why wouldn't other women have the same thoughts? In fact, I'll bet there's no experience you could have in this life that isn't shared by someone else on the planet. If you only knew.
So I guess this post is just to reassure you that there's someone out there who knows how you're feeling and what you're going through. And hopefully one day you'll find them, and they'll help you feel less alone.