Mothering without a mom doesn’t mean her influence is lost.
I lost my mom ten years before my first baby was born. There are so many moments I miss her physical presence as I tackle my own motherhood journey. Moments I’d like to ask her how she did it— “it” being general motherhood. And then there are moments I miss her acutely. When I feel almost desperate to ask her for specific advice only she could offer.
One such occasion popped up recently. Driving back from a little COVID-era road trip, my daughter started wailing. Her precious bunny had a hole in his foot. It was time for his first emergency surgery.
I grew up with my own precious friend, a monkey. I completely picked out his fur, and my mom sewed him a zip-up monkey suit. I completely picked out the monkey suit’s fur, and she sewed him a new one. She made him a Halloween costume he wore throughout the years (he was a pumpkin). Monkey lives on today in his second (third?) monkey suit. He lives on a very high shelf away from toddler hands and puppy mouths but occasionally comes down for a visit and a snuggle.
I know all too well the importance of a special stuffed animal. And now, I am the mom. It is my responsibility to “make the monkey suit” such as it were.
Unfortunately, I am not my mom. She was a talented creative who put the full force of her creative abilities exclusively into projects for her family. I have pretty good handwriting, and that’s about where my creative abilities start and end. I have no skills or knowledge to save this bunny.
If life had turned out differently, I would call her. I wouldn’t even attempt bunny surgery for fear of making the poor little guy’s feet worse. I would drop him off at Dr. Grandma’s, and she would handle it perfectly.
That’s not my reality. My reality is that I have the responsibility to be to my daughter both who my mom was to me, and who she would be to her as a Grandma, too. While I don’t have my mom here to walk me through the steps, I have her example to inspire me. Today’s crisis is a bunny craft project, with online mom groups and YouTube tutorials getting me through. The crises of our tomorrows will likely be larger and weightier as I shepherd my kids through their childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.
There isn’t a big moral to this story or an answer to how I’m going to cope as time goes on. I still miss my mom. I would still like her to fix this dang bunny. But I’m motivated by her memory to learn ladder stitching, the differences between types of thread, and anything else necessary to preserve the magic in my daughter’s childhood, as she did for mine. And I hope she is looking down on me and my hodge-podge attempt to repair our bunny and is feeling proud.