3 months in row, woohoo! Look at me here you guys!! Here’s to keeping it going this year!

I have decided in the last month to officially go public with this blog and start its sister podcast about grief, and I am TERRIFIED! For almost two years I have let this exist in a place that only I know of and it has been my safe place to put my thoughts, so to really share this with people, strangers or not, makes me feel so vulnerable, which we all know is a real weakness of mine. So I’m really fighting this feeling and just moving forward with everything, writing and recording. Which brings me to today, and boy do I have a lot to share with you.

Today is just one of those hard marriage days. I’ll be married for four years this September, and some days are just HARD. Hard like why are we together, maybe we shouldn’t be, I’m so mad I could spit fire, want to burn your clothes, stay at your mother’s mad. And you know what I would do when I had hard days like this? Call my mom. I know there’s a saying that you’re not supposed to complain about your husband to anyone, but it’s seriously such a gift to be able to complain to someone else about your spouse, without them thinking you’re getting divorced tomorrow or have them start acting different around your significant other. Because sometimes it’s just a fight and sometimes he’s just an idiot and sometimes you just need to vent to someone that’s been there. And that person was my mom. She loved Dominic in a way that didn’t make sense, but made her able to listen to me bitch about him all day long and still love him the same. It made her able to be emotionally available to me, no matter what was going on, and even available to Dominic when he wanted to bitch about me. And it’s one of the thousand things I miss about her.

For some reason, though, I’ve been given two mothers in this life that will listen to me complain endlessly. And I’ve been given someone who loves me in a way that doesn’t make sense, that allows me to complain about her son all day long and still love me the same. She is available to me whenever I need her, no matter what is going on, and it’s one of the thousand things about her I am so grateful for.

When my mom was taken to the hospital, she was there, and she was there the when she died, with my father in law, supporting me as I let my mother move into the world I can’t see. She was there in the days after, bringing food for the calling hours and she was there the day of the funeral. She’s been there for Isabel in my moms absence, taking her shopping and having fun girls days, baking and buying her art supplies, doing all of the things Isabel would have done with my mom. She was there the day Eleanor was born, in the most gentle way, only as much I was comfortable with, never pushing too much or trying to be too involved. She was there for the first holidays, my birthday and the year anniversary of my moms passing, sitting at the bar with us, toasting my mom. She grieves her loss with us, wishing she were here to enjoy these grandchildren with. She has been there for me every single day since my mom died, and she makes me feel “mothered.”

It’s a strange thing to think about, what it means to be mothered, and how that is different to different people. To me, it’s her going to the grocery store and grabbing something I forgot to get. It’s her getting diapers because we are out and doing laundry while I’m at work because I couldn’t (or didn’t try) to get it all finished. It’s her starting dinner so that I don’t have to make it when I come home. It’s her cleaning up the plastic
Easter eggs for the thousandth time that day because Eleanor thinks it’s funny to throw them in the air and then leave them there all day long. It’s her coming to my house, to watch my kids, on the only two days off she has from work, and then picking them up on a day after she gets off work, and never complaining about it. It’s her taking Isabel shopping and buying her WAY to many clothes and makeup she doesn’t need and Eleanor Nike’s and yellow rain boots because she just couldn’t pass them up. It’s her being there without me having to ask her to, and always saying all the right things, hugging me a little bit longer on the days I really need it, and always saying, “I love you.” It’s her giving me a card, just because, just like my mom did before she died. It’s a text on the 11th of every month, the day of the month my mom died, just to let me know she remembered and she’s thinking of me. It’s her listening to me complain about marriage and how hard it is to hang in there some days, when it’s been hard for so many days before it, and still managing to give me advice, even if it’s just, “Guys are stupid,” which is so something my mom would say. “They’re stupid, Ash, what do you want me to tell you?” “”I don’t know how you did it, but you managed to marry your father.” “Sometimes I want to fucking kill him. And then I don’t.”

The point of this one is not to complain about my husband, even though I really want to. It’s to tell you that sometimes there are people who come into our lives, seemingly with adjacent or benign purposes, and then they end up playing the biggest role in your life. They try and fill the void left by the person that left, and sometimes they make you feel something you haven’t felt in a long time. Before my mom died, I remember hearing Whoopie Goldberg talking about her mom dying (why I was listening to her, I don’t know). And I have remembered what she said all the time. I think about it almost every single day since my mom passed, when I am forced to acknowledge her absence. She said as her mom was dying, she realized that no one would ever love her like that again. That’s what it is like, in a sentence, to lose a parent. But sometimes she makes me forget, just for a second, that I’m without something, or someone.

No one will ever love me like that again. No one will see the leaves on the trees in the spring, right after they’ve fully bloomed and remember that time as a kid I didn’t notice them until they were completely out, running down the stairs and screaming, “Mom, look at the leaves! It’s summer!” and then reminding me of that, every single year. No one else will wake up on a crisp fall morning, knowing it’s my favorite season and text me to say, “Isn’t this just your favorite day?” No one else will know that I can’t actually eat fried eggplant on a hot summer night because it bothers the cyst on my tongue that I was born with and no one else will make fun of the way I eat yogurt. No one else will know exactly what to say, exactly when I need it, in the exact way I need it; sometimes soft words and sometimes hard ones, in her sweet voice or her stern one.

But sometimes, someone else is okay with second place. And sometimes, someone else is okay with trying to be that person for you, and your kids, in all the ways you think you need it, and all the ways you don’t know about. Sometimes that person is your husbands mother and sometimes she feels like your mother too. Sometimes she’s your only lifeline to sanity, your only friend, the only soft voice of reason, the only understanding hug, the only person who gets you. And sometimes, she makes you thank God, or whoever you believe in, for giving you a back up. Because you can never have too many people who love you, especially the kind that doesn’t make sense.

So officially, this is me, saying THANK YOU, a million times over, for all of these reasons, and all the ones I can’t even begin to write, for all of the things you do, especially the ones that you think go unnoticed. But most importantly, thank you for making me feel mothered, and for making sure I know you aren’t trying to replace anyone, for any of us. For talking about my mom to my girls, to me, to my sister. I love you more than I can even begin to describe, in a way that makes my heart feel especially full, even when a second before it felt so incredibly empty.

Be thankful for the people that have so carefully come into your life, friends. They are so, so important, and there for a reason.

Until next time.

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