A personal friend of ours asked us to write about a topic that is a little close to home. She wanted to know about how growing up without a mom has affected us as mothers. We agreed wholeheartedly without realizing what a tough topic this would be.
As I began to think about it, I wasn’t at all sure about what to write. I hadn’t really thought about it in great detail. How did I feel about it? How has it affected my mothering? These questions have rolled around in my mind the past few weeks as I pondered writing this article.
Today marks the 21 year anniversary of my mother’s death. On Dec. 5th, 1996, Sara Nadene Hill passed away from cancer. That is a long time when you really think about it. She has been gone longer than the length of time any of my siblings even knew her – longer than my father had been married to her. Twenty-one years! A lot can happen in twenty-one years – for example, myself and three of my other siblings getting married and becoming parents ourselves.
So much is missed by someone who should be here to enjoy it with us.
I still cry at times when I think of her. Even though I was only seven years old when she died. The sad truth is, I barely even knew who she was. I believe that is the most painful part of losing her. Someone I should know so much about, I know very little. How I would have loved to get to know her over the years of growing up. How I would have loved to hear her tell me the story of how she fell in love with my dad. How I would love to call her and ask for advice when I’m struggling with how to parent my children. How I would love to see her hold my boys and rejoice in the grandchildren she has.
As I ponder and cry over our loss of her, I begin to realize something – I remember her as a beautiful, loving mother! The memory of her is good, and lovely. When others share the memories they have of my mother, they are that of a woman that people loved and admired. A woman that loved Jesus and loved others.
But here is the shocker. She wasn’t a perfect mother!
This truth opened a painful spot in my heart and started to help me heal from the emotional scars I have inflicted upon myself. I began to heal from the shame and guilt I felt of messing up as a mom.
You see, I remember some not so great times with my mom. Allow me to share a personal memory…..
The whole of the memory is foggy. I don’t even recall what caused my mom to get so upset that day. My sister’s and I were probably fighting and being little stinker butts like young kids can be. We ended up pushing my mom over the edge. Maybe she was hormonal or perhaps she was stressed or sad. Either way, she was not happy with us.
“Sometimes you guys make me want to get in the car and leave!!” she said with a loud and emotional pitch in her voice.
She went into the bathroom and closed the door. After that, I remember my older sister, Raquel, and I began to cry. And behind the door of the bathroom, my mother cried too.
Eventually, we braved it and walked into the bathroom. We hugged our mother. We cried some more. “I’m sorry,” my mom said minutes later.
I have done this! I have told my little boy that I wanted to leave. And when I did it, that memory flooded back to my brain like a frightful tsunami taking out an entire country. I did exactly what she did. I even went to the bathroom and cried.
I see a lot of my mother in myself. Even though I barely knew her she still has etched herself within the layers of my life. I am passionate and emotional like she was. I’m quirky and fun and love Jesus. My mom was able to make an impression even in such a short time.
You are probably thinking that the whole point I am trying to get at is how us as parents pass on parenting techniques and how what we do will affect our children later on down the road. That is true but surprisingly, not my main point.
What I want others to realize is that I still think of my mom as a wonderful mother. Even amidst the not so lovely times. I still see beauty and joy when I think of her. I knew she loved me and my family. I know that she loved Jesus. Mess ups on her part did not change that.
You see, even though you may have messed up with your kids, or raised your voice or got angry at something minuscule, you are still a good mom. If you are leaning on Jesus, and working to be the best mom you can be, then you are doing well. Jesus has so much grace for us. It is sufficient.
My memory of my mother is good. Was she perfect? No. She was human. She loved us with the love of an imperfect human being. And for that love, I am ever grateful. I hope that as my boys grow into adulthood they will realize that I was an imperfect woman doing the best I could. I hope as I did with my mother, they will remember the joy and the good times. The bad memories will still be there but I hope they remember them and show me grace.
Many other parts of me as a mom have been affected by the lack of a mother in my life. There would be a large list. But I will allow my other sisters to share their point of view so I don’t steal all the thunder. In the articles to come, my sisters, Caylen and Raquel will share their stories as well.
A Special Thank You
To end this article I would like to say thank you to so many women who did step up to the plate and helped me mature as a woman and a mother even after mine left this world. Without these women, I would not be who I am today. These women showed me the heart of Jesus and showed me the love of a mother.
First and foremost, my sister Raquel: Without your love and care I don’t know where I would be. You cared for me as a mom for so many years. For you I am ever grateful.
Aunt Juanita: You loved us with such intensity. I knew you felt protective of us and cared for us. I still remember you making the sacrifice to come be with me at the Mother’s Day Tea party I had in 2nd grade. I will always remember that.
Grandma Mollie: Though you are no longer with us, I still remember you and feel the love you had for me. Your lovely songs and warming hugs will forever be with me. As well as your beautiful garden – forever etched in my mind.
My mother-in-law Pati: You have been patient with me as I have taken so long to be confident enough to ask your advice and share intimate conversations with you. You are a beautiful woman and I am so glad I married your son.
Angie Steffen: Oh what a joy you are! You loved me in all the awkward stages of life and made me feel important. I remember you curling my hair and having fun sleepovers. I will always love you. (I still sing the “Bed Bug’s” song we made up. I sing it to my boys when they go to sleep 🙂 )
Maureen Palmquist: I know now how important is to be polite and say ‘thank you’ because of you. I was always glad to come to your house. I felt loved and safe there. You hold a special place in my heart.
Jane Otott: If ever there was a woman who showed me the heart of sacrifice, you are the one. You are such a kind and faithful women. The fact that you came every Friday for so many years and asked for nothing in return amazes me. I think of you and think of Jesus.
Thank you to all the beautiful women who love as Jesus loves. Without joyful, Godly women this world would be a sad and lonely place.