March 5, 2011
-post card- a lesson this mother learned
I am a mother of dead children, how exactly does a woman do that; be a parent to children who are no longer alive? I ventured a guess it had a lot to do with what kind of mother I was to my living children.
The timing of accident happened at the point of transition for me. I had two married daughters a married son, grandchildren and a soon to be empty home. My youngest two boys in their early twenties, the one involved in the accident had been in college, living off campus near his college with his brother-in-law and the sister- the one who he died with in the accident. The other son had graduated college was starting a law enforcement career working long hours, hardly ever home- both ready to make the transition themselves to full independence.
What I found out thru a good bit of reflection and yes- therapy was that I had an over exaggerated sense of my own importance in my children's lives, they were adults after all. I didn't need to remind this one of the others birthday or smooth over this or that spat, feel responsible to accommodate get together's "just because" I wanted family togetherness. If the kids were in touch with each other or not that was their own is their business, and they were free to conduct separate relationship free of my involvement or judgement. I was their parent- not the social director-communications director- feeler of all things responsible-my involvement to the extent that it was, was too much.
I could write a list as long as my arm of those little things I did to accommodate. I am a caretaker by nature the hub of the family- the peacemaker, I think most mothers are. If the people who I care about need me I'm there- that's what I do, but there's another layer to it, why I did it- it fulfilled a need in me.
And that's the rub here of course, when I did all the things I did I told myself it was for them, but under all of it what drove me was this need- this feeling to be involved to stay relevant and to hold on to how it felt to be that mother of children that were actually children. So with that knowledge I transitioned rather painfully I must admit from the mother who was rather enmeshed in her adult children's lives to a concerned mother who was involved but no longer enmeshed.
Even though not the original purpose for going, the death of my children brought me to the therapy which helped me to grow as a mother. I gained valuable insight into my relationships with my children. I learned that stepping back, that letting go isn't withholding attention or love but the complete opposite and that lesson applies to my dead children as well as my living ones.