My mother passed away when I was four (which is how old my son is right now). I don’t know if it was due to trauma or because I was just very young, but as of this day, I still don’t have very much in my memory bank with her in it.
My older siblings helped keep her memory alive. They also carried a lot of her traits and talents. But still, other than stories and photographs, I don’t remember many experiences or encounters with my mom.
It wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I truly started thinking about her more frequently. If there was one thing I was told about my mom, it was that she was a devoted, hard-working, and selfless mother. When I became a mom, I was able to put myself in her shoes.
In every day life, I would think to myself, so this must be something she experienced or thought or felt. She changed diapers too, she made sacrifices too. The struggles and joys of motherhood were things that she had and now I can share that with her too.
It wasn’t until Mother’s Day 2014 when I was able to grieve her and the loss of her for the very first time. (Its hard to grieve someone you barely knew or remember.) My son was a few months old at the time and my daughter was a little over a year old.
I was scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, seeing pictures of people with their mothers. Photos that were taken that day, after church or during lunch, with captions like “Happy Mother’s Day! You’ve always been there for me and I’m so thankful for you…”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I remember looking through these photos when it hit me all at once. For the first time I felt envy, jealousy, and most of all, sorrow over the fact that I couldn’t have what they had. I couldn’t say what they were saying. I asked myself (and at the same time God) why couldn’t I have that? How come they get to have that and I don’t?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I was in the stairway at our apartment when I realized this loss and lack in my life and started sobbing. Lawson saw me and he embraced me and I grieved in his arms that afternoon. At the age of 24 (20 years after my mom passed away) I truly grieved her death for the first time. I felt a sense of relief afterwards and I knew that needed to happen…⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I love my mother and whether you had your mother for four years (like I did) or for 40, there is nobody who can replace a mother’s role in our lives. I don’t share this to make anyone feel sorry for me but just to say that a mother’s role in the family is so vital, so unforgettable, so impactful and so influential.
I thank God that He enabled me to become a Mama relatively early. He knew it would help me in more ways than one. And even though my mother wasn’t able to be there for me growing up, there was something on the inside of me that she, and only she, could have deposited. Someway, somehow. Whether it was through her countless prayers, or through her touch and embrace. I know that her role was eternally important for me and by God’s grace I want to give my very best to my own children…
Motherhood is such a special calling and responsibility.
May we never ever forget that truth.
– Bernadine Barber