My Mom worked hard for our family. At the time, she thought that was the best gift she could ever give us. She generally worked two jobs at a time. She was a hair-dress by day and a waitress at night.
On her nights off, she was either curled up watching television in bed or out dancing with friends. Some nights I would have a baby sitter. Others, my brother might be home. Most of the time, I was alone.
As I grew up, I did not care if she was home or if we spent time together. We loved each other. But, we did not have a relationship. Not a close one, anyway.
As a grown woman, that began to fester in my heart and I felt hurt whenever she would demand time of me. I harbored anger and resentment. I would think: “Where were you when I was growing up. Why do you need me now? I have my own life……”
I never thought she knew how deeply it had hurt growing up without her being home or present.
I never knew how to put these feelings into words until recently. A friend recently shared something with me that hit home. She helped me find the words to describe what I had been feeling. Being a Mom in proximity to my children is not the same as being a Mom giving quality time and nurturing moments.
About a month before my Mom passed away, we were talking on the phone and she broke into tears. She told me how sorry she was for not being home and not being part of my life. She told me that she felt it was her time to party, have fun and make money after I was born. After all, she had done her part with my brothers and well…I’d be ok. She told me – as she lay there knowing she was dying she could never take back those moments. but if she could, she would give every.single.penny.or.breath.of.life to make it right.
Her apology meant little to me at the time. I had allowed the hurt to swell up inside my heart for so long that it became part of me. I carried it around and wore it like a blanket.
I became aware of the path that I was quickly heading towards being a Mom in the proximate location of my children……but absent.
That thought hit me, as I listened to my friend and realized I had just told one of my children – “Just five more minutes, baby…and I’ll be with you.” (for the tenth time in less than 2 hours)…..
And the words to “Cat’s In the Cradle” rang through my ears. The chaos of the world around me and seeing how far we have fallen as a nation whose families are falling apart as we have forgotten why our nation was founded – ‘to worship God freely’ – when was that replaced with the American dream of more, more, more….
As my thoughts collided and my heart-felt so heavy I thought it may actually stop… I stepped back and heard my Mom’s words…and what came after…..
“Rebecca, you’re home with them. You made a difficult choice financially, but it’s the right choice and God will carry you through and honor your commitment. Don’t make the same mistakes I made….you will be tempted. I love you and you are a great Mom. You have the life I always wanted…..please cherish it.”
That was one of our last conversations. I buried it for four years.
Now, the healing begins. The blanket is falling off. The blanket of anger, hurt and inadequacy. I’m grabbing on to this life as a Mamma. It’s a short life that is easy to miss.
Those five minutes can never be re-lived. But, the next five minutes will not be missed.
And I’m shouting from the roof top to Heaven…. “Thank You, Mamma…. You did the best you could and you called me to do better. I’m honoring you…loving you from here and holding these babies the way you want me to. I’ll raise them up to know who you were and to love God”
This Christmas, while I celebrate the birth of Christ, I’m also celebrating the best gift my Mom ever gave me. This gift is number 1232 as I count all of my joys with Ann. This one….trumps almost every one, save the most beautiful from the Father! And I’m choosing to be The Better Mom.
What are you celebrating?
This post is part of my series walking through death.
Links to other posts in the series:
- Day 1: Walking Through The Pain of Death
- Day 2: Losing a Parent to Death is Never Easy
- Day 3: Joys and Sorrows During the Holiday
- Day 4: A Mom’s Best Gift To Her Children
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