Today marks 27 years since I lost my mother to cancer. She was only 60 years of age, and I had just turned 24 a few months prior to her death. To this day, I want her to be at the other end of the phone…or the other end of a loving embrace. Even though I have now lived more of my life without her than with her, I still need her.
Do we ever stop wanting the love and guidance of our mother?
I can only speak for myself when I say no.
I stopped living with my mother when I was 9 years old, my parents having divorced a year earlier. It was a very dysfunctional family, that is certain. Both parents were alcoholics, life was filled with neglect, abuse, untreated mental health issues, and a carpet with plenty swept underneath its tattered edges. Yet, as I look back upon it all now, I wonder if those many challenges in my early life prepared me for the journey I am on now with my son Brendan Bjorn by making me stronger…and by learning what was and wasn’t acceptable in parenting. I can’t help but think they did.
I always wanted to be a mother. I suppose that is typical of most little girls. My journey to finally become a mother – like many other things in my life – had a few bumps along the way. Before finally having my first son, about whom this blog is centred around – I had 4 miscarriages. The last one was a little girl who had Down Syndrome. Her heart stopped in utero at 3 months gestation. Then, in between having my two beautiful sons, I had my 5th and final miscarriage. And one day, I will have to also let go of my angel on earth, Brendan Bjorn. Again, I wonder if those many losses prepared me for the journey I am on now with my son. And again, I can’t help but think they did.
Mother’s Day is fast approaching, so with today being the anniversary of my own mother’s passing, and the thought of soon celebrating being a mother, I am wondering many things. I wonder how my mother would have handled all of Brendan’s complex medical conditions as a grandmother? What would she have said to me over these past 12 years of his life? Would she have been proud of me? Would she have been proud of her grandson and sent him birthday cards and Christmas presents, unlike other members of my quite sparse and estranged family, or would she have also presumptuously assumed that he doesn’t even know what day it is so never bother? Would she have photos of him up on her wall? Would she have asked me to hold the phone up to his ear so he could listen to her say I love you, Brendan?
So many questions that only my heart can attempt to answer.
My dream to be a mother first came true with Brendan Bjorn. And every day, 12 years and counting, I care for his physical needs as if he is still a baby – changing his nappies, giving him baths, feeding him, dressing him, wiping drool from his chin, speaking for him, and so much more. I am proud to be his mother. With every fibre of my being, I am proud and absolutely blessed to have him as my son.
Being a mother isn’t always what we dreamed it would be. In some ways, my own mother taught me that lesson. We are sometimes forced to let go of those naive childhood dreams, and replace them with a vision unlike anything we had considered possible before, such as when we become a mother to a child with severe disabilities and/or a life-limiting condition. Brendan Bjorn taught me that powerful, soul-changing lesson.
We can, and we do, learn to dream new dreams.
To my mom, and to my Brendan Bjorn, thank you for helping teach me
how to dream new dreams.