When I was pregnant with Curly headed boy I became an ‘orphan’. Sounds daft to think of it like that at 36 years old; but 6yrs, 16yrs, 26yrs, 36yrs or more and having no parents does feel like being an ‘orphan’. When you are an ‘orphan’ and therefore have no parents, what crosses your mind is that the two people who were meant to love you whatever you do are no longer there. It’s actually a flawed thought because my parents weren’t actually that perfect and my relationship with them needed considerable work (that’s an understatement). But when you lose them big fantasies about what life with them in it would be like and lots of deeply held beliefs you never even really knew existed pop up; so you are suddenly an ‘orphan’.
Mum saw me pregnant, which is a huge blessing, but suddenly died a couple of days later, so she never saw my son or my daughter. It was tough being pregnant and grieving, and it no doubt shaped my quite gentle parenting of Curly Headed Boy and choices of some attachment parenting options. But ironically it was harder being pregnant with Little Dimples a few years after Mum died, when I really felt how much I was still saddened by losing my Mum and Dad (dad died when I was 20).
Luckily for me I know how to work on grief so that it doesn’t continue to cause the pain and suffering in my life, but I do still have to look at it from time to time when I see something else that I feel I’m missing; Like a grandmother for my children (on my side, the hairy northern one is lucky enough to have both his parents), or someone to care for me, or someone to guide me, or someone who loves me just as I am warts and all. One of the exercises that I help grieving people with is to show them that what they are missing, is still there, it just doesn’t look the same as it used to. It’s a tough exercise sometimes for sure, but imagine how much better they feel when they are no longer feeling like they ‘miss something’, and just think about how much closer to their loved ones they will feel when they are not distressed any more (you can feel close to someone, even if they have passed on).
I’ve been thinking about Mum over the last couple of days as the anniversary of her death is August the 9th, and northern hairy hubby is away working in america, so I’ve had time to think. Today I was struck with how incredibly luckily I am to have so many people step into the shoes of my Mum and Dad.
I have the little Irish Granny that I found in Tescos looking after my kids, in the way that a grandmother does. They are being fed all the food that I would never do, being taken to parks, and playing with old furniture together in a way that they just don’t do at home; today they looked like a proper brother and sister being naughty with their grandmother. (Of course this often means the next day I have crazed kids who need to be reminded of the house rules and come down from a sugar high).
At the same time I had someone Curly Headed Boy has called ‘Sparkly Lady’ help me with the focus of my work and my life (I might be a coach who can sort my own life out, but the best coaches go to someone else as well to keep them in line every now and again). This woman is full of love for me, and over the past year has been a shoulder to cry on and a gentle director to keep me going in the right direction. Without her you guys wouldn’t be about to get my new book ‘Six Weeks To A Sparkling You’. Ironically, she can mother so many because she doesn’t have children of her own, which makes her the ultimate mother, but because she is helping me with my dreams and business, there is a big dash of my Dad in her as well (Dad was a very imaginative person when it came to business).
Then I am faced with the indomitable amazonian american adoptive mum who is trained in the same therapy as myself. This woman loves me just as I am, and I feel safe talking to her, because she can see my crap, but still adore me. She inspires me as a mother does, and gives me that sense of having a mentor to look up to, not in a ‘they are better than me’ kind of way, but in a ‘what fabulous footsteps to follow or walk beside’ kind of way.
My mum tended to focus on being a ‘friend’ to me rather than a Mum, and I also have some great friends now a days. At the moment there are too many to mention, so thank you to them all, but a special mention goes out to the ones who very much fill my Mums shoes: There is SB who comes laden with blueberries and healthy snacks to re-energise me, and SM who is packed with listens to me whenever I call. Then TL who shares a bottle of bubbly with me every now and again, and JB who is full of pragmatic advice.
I am truly a lucky Mum and daughter to have these women in my life. So if you have a Mum, give her a call or a hug today. But if you don’t have a mum, think about what is missing and then have a look around you at all the people who are filling the gap. They are there, and it feels lovely to see them. It’s not about forgetting them, they will actually feel closer to you the less that you ‘miss’ them or grieve for them.
Give your kids a hug too, and for this weekend try to not worry about everything that you have got to do. Because when you are gone, they will have forgotten all those To Do’s, they will be missing the ‘you’ that is a parent, that loves, guides, nourishes and cherishes them.