Sunday, May 12, 2013

Reflections on Mother's Day

As I type this I can hear my son zipping around the main level of our house on his roller blades. He is likely listening to his iPod, because he is strangely quiet. But his blades are swooshing him around chairs and other obstacles left in the path between the kitchen and living room. The sounds of normalcy. Love it.

I can hear Rick chatting with his mom on the phone. It is Mother's Day morning. They are having a routine mother-son conversation about life with updates on both sides. The banter of normalcy. This too, I love.

I just posted a photo of my own mom on Facebook. Simple gesture. Everybody's doing it. Seemed normal. Seemed simple.

It left me with shaking hands and tears pouring down my face. I found myself sobbing in those great gulping sobs that leave you dizzy with lack of oxygen. After so many years without my mom, you would think this sharp pain of grief would dissolve. Perhaps spread out like oil on water leaving a shimmer to remind you that it was there but diluting the original slick. Certainly missing her would remain, but it would somehow become normal. Yet it hasn't.

While I was wallowing in my own little puddle of self-indulgent sadness I also was supported by the memories that now serve as my Mom Manual. Somehow Jackie Fitzgerald understood that there would be days when I just wouldn't know what to do next or how to manage the mounting chaos of daily life. Without knowing the details of what the future would hold, she offered solutions in the way she handled her own life and the pit stops that sometimes take you by surprise along the way.

Jackie wasn't a saint (pretty gosh darn close, but even she would blush a bit at such an audacious title and point out that her choices have not always been saint-like!). She didn't always have the textbook response to life's challenges for herself or her children. But, along the way she always loved her family, even when they tested her limits and pushed her buttons. She always cared for her neighbors like they too were family. She fostered the creative pursuits of each person she encountered uniquely. And, she cheered the loudest for each of her children's accomplishments in every phase of their lives. She taught me to become a mom with the way she handled each challenge, with the way she wiped every tear, and with the way that she handed out punishments when merited.

Every time I stumbled with the job of mommyhood, during that time I like to think of as my training wheel years -- before Connor could remember all of my egregious errors -- she pointed out the nuances of the task:
...focus on the big picture
...when in doubt just hug your child
...every problem will seem less daunting after a good night's sleep courageous in the face of doubt...always eat your vegetables (seriously, this one challenges me to this day!)
...use your manners
...don't do anything that you'd be embarrassed to tell me about

Now that I don't have her to chat with about every silly thing, I must dig deeper and come up with my own solutions. I have to step up to the plate and swing all on my own. But, I know that she is still cheering me on and rooting for my success...I know this because that is what I would do for Connor and I had the very best teacher. I learned to parent from my mom...and that is my normalcy. Thank you, Jackie.