I love children and always thought I would be a mom.
I cannot count the tears I shed in releasing the grief of never having my own children.
I made my peace though it was not easy. They say nothing worth having is.
My mom will be 87 years old July 2nd. She lives in Florida with my dad, who spends his time taking care of her.
My mom has alzheimer’s.
She ends every conversation: “hugs, hugs, hugs” or “love, love, love.”
Those words are a gift I will carry with me my whole life, long past her passing on.
Sometimes I crumble in sadness because though she is here, she is not the same person I always knew. She cannot process emotion. She cannot put together a moment. She cannot deal with stress. She cannot discuss simple subjects.
She can love me. She still loves me.
When I had a hernia operation a few years ago she had the insight to advise me to take my pain pill and cut it in half. Two years ago I had a bananagrams puzzle and I could not figure it out so I called my mom and in about 5 minutes she figured it out.
She still tells me to rest when I say I am tired. She tells me to take care of myself.
She loves me with all her heart even though she does not have all of her mind.
When I visited last year all they had in the house was decaf so my mom was ready to walk out the door and ask a neighbor for caffeinated coffee. My exhausted father also drove to the store that night so I would not have a headache the next day.
I have been married 16 years May 13. They have been married 66 years. They raised three children. I raised four cats.
They made mistakes but we all do. Parenting is the hardest job there is. The joy is incredible and the grief can be deeper than any known.
I tell my pregnant yoga students you make room for the baby as you move, and you do it the rest of your life.
Once a parent always a parent.
My dad continues to grow and gives me undying support in all I do. My dad who worked his whole life and had not cracked an egg till he was 70 makes sure she gets all her needs met.
My mom is a delight. She has not continued to grow emotionally or mentally. Yet she continues to love me every day and give that to me in only the way she can.
When I was a child mom played games with me and my best girlfriend all the time. My mom nurtured me my whole life. My mom told me people are self-centered and don’t mean to hurt others most of the time but people don’t think of others often. My mom told me we all do things we don’t want to do. My mom told me no matter what, to always take care of myself.
My mom gave me the tools I need and continue to need to live a loving and compassionate life. I have always been able to talk to my mom. I have always been able to share my problems, ask advice and feel her support.
The gift today is I know what to say when we talk to make her laugh. She won’t remember. But she still knows who I am.
So to all the mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, find forgiveness for what was missing and find joy in what was offered. Love is always imperfect.
We all grieve the family we never had.
I know of many who suffered transgressions I don’t even like to imagine. To those I still say, find forgiveness. There is imperfect love and there is sickness. Know the difference.
One of my teachers said while I grieved being childless, it’s not the genes that we need to pass on, but love….
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Editor: Kate Bartolotta