Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers' Day

There are a million posts on Facebook today from a million people who had the best mom in the world, whose mom is their best friend and who sing other praises of their mothers. That's wonderful. I am so happy for them and for all the maternal and filial relationships of strength and love in the world.

My relationship with my mom was very complicated. You can probably guess that from some of my blog posts. I do love her very much, but for the last several years of her life, our roles really switched and I was the one mothering her. I took care of my mom in ways that most people don't experience until they are about twenty years older than me. And it became hard to differentiate the woman from the disease that ravaged her body. So I've been working slowly on rebuilding my relationship with her now that multiple sclerosis doesn't create such a huge barrier between us. Granted, the fact that she's on the other side of the veil does create a barrier, but it seems so much more surmountable than the disease did.

I wish I'd had the opportunity to get to know my mom as a peer. I feel like my big growing-up years of high school and college were the years that she slid down a huge hill in her health and never recovered. But I do have many sweet memories that should be cherished, especially on Mothers' Day.

Although my mom and I are similar enough that we butted heads often in my childhood and youth, she was a source of comfort and strength to me. If I was scared or concerned or anxious, I wanted my mom. I wanted her to make things better, and I knew she could. I went through an extended period of time where I was terrified of dying (and it seemed to come on every night, when I didn't want to go to bed for fear I wouldn't wake up). My mom was always the person I wanted to hold me and give me comfort. When I was a teenager with assorted medical problems, she took me from doctor to doctor, and eventually sat through my five surgeries- I didn't have any comprehension at the time that it might be hard on a mother to wait outside an operating room while her child was under anesthesia, even for very low-risk operations like mine.

And later still, when I was a college graduate with a master's degree, starting my first job in a city that was new to me, and experiencing a major depressive episode, I remember kneeling by my mother's bed one night, my heart heavy and full of terrible emotions and unnamed dread. She couldn't walk, could barely talk coherently by that point, but I needed a mother so much to hold me and tell me that things would be okay, and she could do that.

So, happy Mothers' Day. May we all work to improve relationships with mothers, children, and everyone else, regardless of whether they are with us still or watching over us.

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