Losing My Mom (and Gaining a Grandmother)

Losing My Mom

My mom is still alive. I want to lead with that since the title might be deceiving to some. The loss I’m speaking of is a different kind of loss. It’s a loss that comes from change. And folks, change is scary and ugly and wonderful all at the same time.

On many occasions, my mom and I have been told that we look like twins. Personally, we don’t see it, but we just go with it because we love the comparison and sometimes we feel like siblings. We’ve always been thick as thieves. Ever since I was young, we’ve had one of those special, rare relationships that I don’t see very often between a parent and child. Perhaps it is because I’m an only child and perhaps it is our personalities, but either way, my mom is my best friend. We talk on the phone 2-4 times per day. When something exciting happens in my life, she’s the first one I call. When something is too much to handle, I call her to hear those calming words: “You can do this, Mari. I know you can.” When I was little, she played with me and taught me how to use my creative mind to solve problems and have fun. As I got older, she was my role model: a kind, creative, fun woman who loved her husband, her family, and her garden. In adulthood, she became my friend. I still learned from her, but now we were equals. We shopped for my first house together, exchanged recipes, and laughed about life.

And then I became a mother…and I lost mine.

As I mentioned above, she is still alive and doing well. I didn’t lose her in a physical sense. But, I did lose the mother-daughter relationship I had with my mother for years and I won’t ever get it back. I see glimpses of it here and there when we chat on the phone and visit each other in person. Sometimes it surprises me at random moments and I smile, thinking back to when I didn’t have two kiddos running around, taking up my every moment and thought. But, for the most part, it’s gone. I didn’t realize it left when I had my first child and I noticed something was off. Not only had my body and mind changed, but my mom had changed. I constantly felt this low-lying irritation when I would speak with my parents on the phone. I was quick to snap at her when it came to parenting advice.

Something was wrong and I was devastated. What had happened to my mom? Was she jealous? Had her personality changed?

Since my relationship with my mother has always been one of the most important ones in my life, I decided I needed to figure this out and fix it. After lots of soul-searching, I realized what had happened. I had changed. My life had changed and my role had changed – not my mom. Now I was the mom and my mom was my child’s grandmother. Before having children, I didn’t think about how our relationship would change. I knew she would love my child(ren), but I would always be her child, so it didn’t matter. Nothing would change that. But, it did. After I figured out the real reason our relationship changed, I called her up and we chatted. She said she’d noticed something off with us as well and we talked it out like we always do. Both of us felt a huge relief after acknowledging that things had changed. Sometimes, that’s all it takes: acknowledgement.

Once we realized what was hindering our mother-daughter relationship, I took time to grieve. I knew it was gone and that there was no getting it back. But, I also realized what we gained. This wasn’t uncharted territory – we’d done this before. After going from “mommy” when I was little, to my pal growing up, to my adult mom/friend, we’d glided through life transitions before and we could do it again. This gave me hope. There was no reason to mourn the loss of this relationship! Instead, I needed to embrace it. I had my own family now, but I still needed my mom. We just had to work on crafting a new relationship that fit into our new roles as mom and grandmother.

Losing My Mom 2

I’m happy to say we’ve done it. I still talk to my mom multiple times a day and we see each other often. We still laugh about things that aren’t kid-related. But now, I’ve called her for parenting advice instead of home decor advice. She’s helped me decide what preschool to send my daughter to. I have a deeper respect for her as a parent now that I’m doing it myself. It’s the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and she gets that. She now has an incredible relationship with my daughter. I glow when I watch them together. It fills me with pride, not jealousy. How lucky my daughter is to have Siti (Arabic for Grandmother) in her life! Now that I’ve had my second child, I don’t even miss our old relationship. I treasure this new relationship and the memories we’ve created. And I know we’ll create more.

Has your relationship with your mother/parents changed since you had children? Did you notice or was a smooth transition from mom/dad to grandmother/grandfather?

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5 Responses to Losing My Mom (and Gaining a Grandmother)

  1. Audra Powers August 8, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    Love this! I just had my first baby in March. I live in NM and my mom lives in FL but we talk several times a day and visit often. I have been feeling this way ever since my daughter’s birth and it’s really nice to read your post. I was actually trying to articulate these same feelings to my husband last night. I’m glad to read you have found a new way to be with your mom and this gives me encouragement! Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Mari Smith
      Mari Smith August 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm #

      Hi Audra! I’m glad you can relate. I find it’s something that not many people talk about, but can be really hard to cope with! Hope you and your Mom get back on track. Thanks for commenting!

    • Ash August 18, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

      I learned what not to do as a parent, and I don’t take my mom’s advice because she is a different kind of parent than I am…. although I did realize how much my mom did for me & my brothers all at the same time.
      Becoming a mom is something that has taught me so many things about the world and love.. trusting God’s plan is another thing I have learned with motherhood & not judging others and just being kind & caring ♡♡♡♡

  2. Marie Maddox August 8, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

    Having been your teacher in seventh through tenth grades, I have try watched you grow from child to teen to college student to wife to mom
    It has been my great joy and privilege to get to know both your parents, as well. You have slays been an excellent writer, and this piece is no exception. I rede twd, as I read, on how my own rekationship,with my mother changed when I had children. It was different than the changes you describe. My mother and I were not close, but after I had chikdren, we became very clise. I think she loved me in a,way she never had because I brought these two children into her life who loved her unconditionally. I don’t think she had ever felt that kind of love. Sadly, she died of cancer when they were young, but I am happy she got to experience that love. Thanks for sharing where you are in your journey. You and your mom are both super women, and I am sure you will always complement each otber. Your children are indeed blessed to have such wonderful parents and grandpatents.

    • Mari Smith
      Mari Smith August 15, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

      Ms. Maddox! Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment! 🙂 It means a lot that you read it and enjoyed it. And I’m glad you and your Mom got closer once you had children. It’s amazing to watch my Mom be a grandmother – makes me appreciate her so much more!