We were digging through some boxes tonight trying to find the elf on the shelf. I swore I would never get one of these dumb elves, but I caved and we’ve had little Hermie a couple of years now. Somehow we lost the elf. We thought it was up on a high closet shelf, but he wasn’t there. My husband couldn’t remember where he put him last year. Who could remember anything about last year? We put our Christmas stuff away sometime between the time dad died and the funeral. Heck, that little elf could be anywhere.
While we dug through the basement, I came across some boxes of memories my mom kept for me. She is such an amazing woman. I am quite sure I have the best mom in the universe. She kept a little record of every single year of my life. There were pictures from the time I was born up to my high school graduation. Every newspaper clipping, every report card, certificate, science fair ribbon, field hockey trophy, dance picture, letters of recommendation, everything in my whole entire childhood was meticulously documented in folders and bins and spiral notebooks and boxes.
I found some pictures of my dad from the day I was born. He looked so young, so carefree, and so happy. My mom had written down the words he said when he found out I was a girl, “sniff, sniff, well how about that?” You’d never think my dad would be one to cry. But on occasion he did let out a few masked sniffles. I knew that he loved me more than anything else ever, so a tear on my birthday was likely warranted. The pictures of him made me cry, but really what doesn’t anymore?
Anyway, I have the best mom in the world. There is nothing that could come up that she wouldn’t make better. She loves me more than life itself and would give up anything for me, and I have always known that. She took care of my dad like a champion. Even the years preceding his death when his gout and crippling arthritis coupled with his temperament and anger at the world made him utterly miserable, she stood by his side. She took him to appointments, she was his advocate, his nurse, his best friend. And she has been all the same for me.
My mom is my best friend. I have big shoes to fill. I don’t know how to be a mom like that. You can plainly see through the pictures and albums and clippings how much she loved being a mom. How much she lived for her kids. I’m not that kind of mom. My poor daughter screams more than she talks. Her throat gets sore from screaming so much. I don’t know how to fix her. I value my children, but I also value my job and my education and my professional identity. I am defined by so many more roles than mother.
More than twenty years ago when they first decided I was crazy, they told me I was too enmeshed with mom. I don’t know if that is a bad thing. When she hurts I hurt when I hurt she hurts… But isn’t that the job of a mother? I may be an adult, but I still need her. She is my calm, my comfort, my quite piece of mind. Dad may be dead, but I am sure thankful I have a mom. And she is amazing.