I miss my mother. Today, my friend’s mother picked up my baby from preschool. She brought him to my house. She gave him a kiss. I picked him up, and said, “Say bye-bye to ‘Bubby’!” I inhaled his warm scent and, as I listened to the rhythm of him sucking his finger, I felt that familiar lump in my throat. I miss my mother.
I miss my mother. Last week, my older son came home with a 100% on his test. I hugged him tightly, and whispered in his ear how proud I was of him. I had half a second where I turned to the phone to call someone to share the news. But, who? My mother died eleven years ago. She’s not there to call. I miss my mother.
I turned to the phone to call someone to share the news. But, who?I miss my mother. My daughter became bat mitzvah a couple of months ago. At the large family party that we had, my husband gave a speech. The morning of the party, I urged him to find some way in which to mention my mother. This was the only grandchild whom she lived to see. According to the doctors, she was the reason she held out as long as she did. He dedicated the day to her, and as he did, I felt that familiar lump in my throat as my eyes brimmed with tears. I miss my mother.
I miss my mother. My younger daughter carries her name. Being that it’s a somewhat unusual name, I frequently get asked about it. Often, people ask twice, as it is not so often that someone my age names for a parent. I stop and look at my beautiful daughter, whose name so fits who she is, and wonder: if my mother was alive, then who would this daughter be? I miss my mother.
I miss my mother. Before Rosh Hashanah, it seemed like everyone I knew had their parents visiting. Living rooms strewn with suitcases, gifts spilling out. Favorite cereals, personalized backpacks and holiday outfits for the kids: gifts that only a mommy would buy for her daughter and her children. Gifts that didn’t need to be requested, but a mother just knows. Kugels, prepared meat and chicken lovingly frozen and packed into suitcases, so “my daughter can take a little break.” Shopping trips so the bubby can pamper the mommy. The lump is there. I miss my mother.
When my mother died, in some ways it was a relief. She had been sick for many years, with the last eighteen months of her life particularly difficult. The last six of those months she spent in the hospital. The roles were reversed. As I became a mother for the first time, I also began the final acts of giving for my mother as I cared for her. I spent little time contemplating the juxtaposition of feeding and bathing my newborn as I did the same for my mother. As I advocated for good daycare for my baby, I became a force to be reckoned with in the hospital ward, fighting for my mother’s dignity and rights at any slight act of negligence. Cheering as my baby learned to roll over and clap hands, I blocked out the disconcerting similarities to my cheers of my mother’s slow progress as she valiantly tried to stack three blocks in occupational therapy.
The sandwich generation is for people in their fifties, not a newlywed girlOn autopilot for all those months, I think that if I had stopped to think of what I was juggling, and what I was witnessing, I would have crawled into bed and not gotten out. But you do what you have to do. Only looking back am I amazed at how I handled a full-time job, caring for a newborn, part-time graduate school, and primary advocate and caretaker for my mother. “Just part of being in the sandwich generation,” were the comments I got. “No!” I wanted to cry. The sandwich generation is for people in their fifties, not a newlywed girl barely halfway through her twenties.
With more than ten years since her passing, I have learned to accept on so many levels that she’s gone. The level that I still struggle with today is the level of a kindness that only a mother can give. Making soup when you are sick, calling to check up on the baby’s cough, the care packages sent in the mail, buying that top that she thought would be so pretty for you. When I see my friends receive these things, I am genuinely happy for them. But the lump comes every single time. It is a lump of sadness, mourning and loss. Because only a mother can be a mother.
Oh, do I miss my mother.