On January 6, 2014, my mom drove her car off a cliff. My mother had tried to commit suicide in the past, but it was still a huge shock when it actually happened. I was still trying to figure out how to be a mother myself with an 18-month-old daughter. I wish I could have my mom back every day, even for just a moment, especially when I am exhausted from taking care of my two daughters. While I wish my mom was still here, I am so thankful for these hard times. My mom committing suicide has actually helped to transform me into a better mom to my children. Below are some of the insights I have gained since the loss of my mother.
Embrace Today, Forgive the Past
One thing that always ate at my mom was guilt and grief over time wasted. She wished she had been a more involved mother when my sister and I were younger. What I wish she would have seen is that she had an amazing opportunity to be involved in her adult daughters’ lives and her grandchildren’s lives.
I don’t want to live with the same regret she did, so I try to maximize my time with my daughters. I try to be intentional with how we spend our time, and I try to always make time for snuggles and loving words.
The reality is that we only have 18 years before our children are considered adults and out on their own, and I don’t want to waste it. The other reality is that I am 100-percent human, and when my sleep/coffee/joy/hunger/hormone levels are slightly off, I am not the best mama I can be. I have made many mistakes in my three years as a mom, and I will make many more, but I choose to forgive myself and grow rather than dwell on my regrets.
Leave Love Letters Behind
My mom died without leaving an explanation, last goodbye, or any type of letter or card to remember her by. Memories can get hazy, and a picture only captures a glimpse of a time. I wish I had her words, her voice, and her encouragement to read and remember. It is too late for me to have those things, but I can give them to my daughters. I started a journal for each of them, and I try to write in them every few months. The letters are simple, but they express my deep love and wishes for them. Whenever I die, they will have no doubt that they were loved by their mama.
You Are More Beautiful Than You Know
My mom was quick to point out her flaws of bad skin issues, extra weight, frizzy hair, and more. To me, my mom was the most beautiful woman in the world. I know many of us could say that about our moms, and it is exactly how our children feel about us. My preschooler is always putting headbands or tiaras on me and saying, “Mommy, you look so beautiful.” I am going to embrace it and accept it, even though my own self-doubt wants to argue.
I am going to show my daughters how to embrace their own unique beauty, knowledge, passions and strengths. I am not going to shy away from taking photos, dressing up silly, or donning a bathing suit because of my lack of confidence. There are too many memories at stake.
You Need to Make Yourself a Priority
My mom was one of the most unselfish people I have ever met. She was always giving, even to strangers. She consistently overdid it and did not always take the best care of herself. Even though many of us will never be diagnosed with bipolar disorder like my mother, I do think that because of poor self-care and stressful schedules, we are all prone to getting overwhelmed and depressed at times.
I don’t want my most precious role as a mother to be stolen from me through poor health choices. I try to eat healthy, work-out, and take special time for myself. I pursue my passions and make time for date nights, friends and hobbies. Simply put, this helps me to be a better wife, mom and person.
I hope that no one has to experience the sadness or pain I have had to endure from my mom’s death. However, I do hope that I can help other moms feel encouraged and inspired in their roles as mothers by sharing what I’ve learned from this tragedy.