My 36th birthday crept up on me very quickly. It truly feels like I just turned twenty-five last year, but I digress. This past year I have become more aware of my mortality, as well as the mortality of my parents, but especially my mother. Sure, I learned about this stage of development in adults entering middle age and I understand that it’s perfectly normal. I guess I just didn’t expect for me to hit me at the most inopportune time, my birthday.
Every year my mom calls me for my birthday and before I can speak, she begins singing me the Happy Birthday song. Every year without fail, she sings me the song and proceeds to tell me that my birthday isn’t really until later in the evening, around 7:10 EST. I know that I can count on this phone call, no matter what she’s doing. This year she was at work, and made a point to step out during her morning break and call me for my birthday song. This year was also the year that my adult brain decided it was time to hit this developmental milestone of the middle aged. As my mom happily sang to me as she’s done every year that I can remember, the backs of my eyes began to sting, and a lump formed in my throat.
For the first time in my entire life, it dawned on me, that I should soak up every pitch of her voice and the way she formed all of her words, because one birthday the phone wouldn’t ring. One birthday instead of awkwardly smiling while she finished the song, instead I would be crying because it would be the first year that I didn’t hear that high pitched squeal following her melodic celebration of my birth.
Now, as a person in my thirties, I certainly have experienced death, and have several friends that have lost one or both parents. Knowing someone that has lost a parent is not the same as losing one yourself, and the weight that comes along with it. In fact, I’m not sure I would know how to parent without my mom. I still call my mom for all kinds of advice or when my feelings are hurt. I can’t help but want my mom to help me feel better.
For now, I have decided that I can’t fear what may come in the future. While I still have the luxury of celebrating major life events with my mom, I’m going to enjoy it. I’ll just be sure to cherish the things that I once took for granted. I’ll ask the questions that I don’t remember the answers to. I’ll call and do my best to visit more. I’ll soak up her scent and commit it to memory.
My mom is one of my very best friends, and when she gets old my siblings and I will likely fight over who she is going to live with (seriously, I see this becoming a very real issue for us). She has taken the time to make each of us feel special, and has nurtured our individual personal relationships with her. I strive daily to be at least half the mom that she was, and is to me.
One day, I too will be a motherless mom, but today I’m just not ready and may not ever be.
*This is a re-post from 2016. Since this was written, I experienced the loss of my stepdad on November 4, 2018.