Mike and Sarah share Sunday posts – as they are two widows who are engaged to one another. Today’s post is from Sarah:
This morning I’m writing in a bit of a rush… trying to get down some words before a cacophony of teenage girls wake up and emerge from the basement in laughter. We’re celebrating Shelby’s birthday – the big 13 – and she’s had a slumber party with her closest friends. This is the 5th birthday I’ve shared with Shelby – which is hard to believe. She and her friends are at that age now where they don’t need much for a party anymore. There were no invitations to be made – only a text message between friends of a day and time. We’re long past structured parties with planned activities. Now it’s more about letting them loose in the basement to have their own time to themselves. It’s new for sure, and although it’s more relaxing, I can’t deny I miss the parties that were planned and organized and all the work that went into that. It seems for me, being so busy doing all of that made it easier to not think about the hard stuff. With with birthday, being a milestone one, it’s even harder.
This morning, I just can’t help but think of her mom, Mike’s wife, Megan. How much I wish she were here. And of my mom, who never saw anything past my 9th birthday, but should have gotten so many more. I can’t help but wonder… am I doing it all well enough? Did we make this birthday special enough? Would Megan be happy? How would she be dealing with the teen years? How would my own mom and I have been during my teen years? What would my own 13th birthday have been like with her there? It’s a lot of questions with no answers… questions that will never have answers.
The thing that does make it easier is seeing Shelby happy and having a great time with her friends. Giving them a space of their own to hang out and be girls and form those bonds and memories that they will always look back on fondly. One thing I do know, is that I didn’t have a lot of that after my mom died. I went to other friends houses for sleepovers, but we never had parties or friends over. That is one small piece of growing up that I missed out on, that I try hard to give her… memories of hanging out in our home with her friends.
Beyond that though, the truth is, there is such an immense void for me. I never feel like I do a great job at this stuff. I don’t ever really feel “motherly” enough. I certainly don’t feel like I fit in with other moms. I guess I can never really shake the feeling that her “real” mom would do x, y, or z better. I know those are very normal thoughts to have, so I don’t let them get to me too badly. But they are still there, hovering around that void of all the questions that will never have answers. The only thing I can do about it really, is to answer the questions I can answer… How can I make sure she feels loved? How can I surprise her? How I can make space for her to be her? How can I teach her things now that will hopefully help her when she’s older? Those are the things I spend most of my time asking. But the unanswerable questions are still always there… about my role as a mom and also as a daughter.
Maybe the very hardest part about being a mom as someone who has lost their own mother so young, is that I cannot ever turn off one wish. That strongest of wishes that I could will a miracle upon miracles for her and bring her mother back. A wish I feel for all daughters who have lost a mother so young (or even not-so-young). Maybe, my feeling inept comes more from that quiet miracle that I will never stop wishing I could create, for myself, for her, and for anyone who’s lost a parent. I cannot ever be a miracle, but I suppose, I can be the next best thing… I can be here.