My husband captured this quiet, precious moment between Rubina and I the other night as she and I talked about my mom. I’m extremely grateful to have this photo; I hope to never forget the way she looked at me, the tugging feeling as she wound my hair around her small fingers, and the sound of her voice as she poured out her sweet, little heart.
It began this way…
“Mommy, I think about Grammy a lot but sometimes when we talk about her it makes me feel bad and my eyes water…”
She went on to explain how deeply she misses her Grammy and how hard this all is; so hard, in fact, she often tries to avoid thinking about her which she also feels bad about. How sensitive and aware our little ones are.
My mom has been gone for 7 months today. I have watched my daughter grieve the loss of her beloved Grammy and, while it’s been painful, she has provided me with a great deal of perspective. For the first 4 months (yes, 4 months), Rubina talked about my mom every day. There were tears, frustration, and confusion. She’d often say, “I know I’m supposed to be happy Grammy isn’t sick anymore but I’m just sad! … I want her here with me. … I miss her. … How can Jesus expect me to be happy she’s with Him and not with me? …” My husband will attest to the daily conversations and grief we witnessed pour out of our daughter. It’s so difficult to observe a little ones grief and, to be honest, I didn’t anticipate her to articulate it so well. I underestimated how my moms death would impact her. I’ve been careful to do the bulk of my grieving away from Ruby as to not project the burden of my loss onto her, but she is aware of my grief. I believe it’s appropriate to be honest with her about my sadness but crucial not to burden her with it. I’m extremely intentional about not placing any extra weight or grief upon her tiny shoulders. And yet, she grieves. While I cannot spare her the pain, I can comfort and encourage. I can pour wisdom into her and be an example of finding joy and purpose in the depths of pain.
My mom was wonderful but far from perfect, as am I. She excelled in many areas as a mom but protecting me from burdens which exceeded my emotional maturity, was not one of them. As adults, she and I discussed this frequently and I know she would agree. She often apologized for weighing me down and treating me as more of a peer than a child, at times; how thankful I am to have a mom who would admit her shortcomings. Rubina’s list of my shortcomings is going to be long. I hope I’m able to offer sincere apologies, as my mom did. Since the birth of Rubina, my mom would often say I was a much better mom than she was, at whatever stage we were currently in. I don’t necessarily think that was true, but I always responded by saying, “I hope so and I hope Rubina is better than I am!”. Shouldn’t we all do better than those before us? Shouldn’t we learn, not only from our own mistakes, but from those of the people closest to us? Absolutely.
My mom taught me more about motherhood than anyone. I frequently give her a small, internal nod, when I experience mom victories and equally as often, breathe a deep sigh knowing I may have just added something to Rubina’s I’ll never do that when I’m a mom list. My mom did her best and I’m doing mine. I learned as much from her successes as I did her failures. I’m certain I fall into many of the same poor patterns she did, I’m certain I’m creating new poor patterns of my own, and I’m certain I’m breaking some old poor patterns I experienced. My mom did better than her mom and prayed I’d do even better than her. My greatest hope, my deepest desire is that my daughter will be better than both my mom and I.