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You're No Longer Mothering, You're Mentoring

So this Sunday is Mother's Day.

This is a very weird day for me.

It's only been 3 weeks since my Mom died.  So standing, choosing cards for my daughters' first Mother's Days, was a gut twisting experience this week.  I was so excited to choose a "First Mother's Day" card for them - which by the way is almost impossible to find.  But kept getting choked up by all the "Love You Mom" cards bursting from the racks.

It's strange.  Years ago I "claimed" Mother's Day.  

After years of hosting every occasion for both of our families, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter - you name it, I hosted it.  And suffering through many crowded Mother's Day brunches out - so I "wouldn't have to cook," I'd had it.  I declared that from then on Mother's Day was mine.  That my husband would take his Mom out for lunch on the Friday before and I would take out my Mom.  Which left Mother's Day free for a relaxing picnic just him, the girls and me.  In fact last year my youngest, bless her heart, insisted we all drive out to the lake and go for a picnic, because that's what we'd always done.  I loved it.  The girls packed up the food, and we all piled into our SUV, lawn chairs, blankets, bocci balls, you name it, we brought it.  And spent an hour and a half driving out through beautiful farm land to a local lake.   It was dreamy.  You know the kind of dreamy where everything is just wrong enough to be amusing.  The lake shore was full of somewhat sketchy characters, there was geese poop all over the grass, I had to pee and my husband kept blowing past gas stations.  The kind of family antics that make these kind of outings so funny, and even funnier when the "kids" are two pregnant, morning sick girls, two full grown sons-in-law, a somewhat reluctant husband, who couldn't understand why we couldn't just lay around the pool in our own backyard.  We spent the day enjoying one of the first warm Sundays of the season, I was in heaven.

What a difference a year makes.  As I write this, I'm realizing that today, Friday, should be my lunch date with my Mom, and I'm sad to realize that I can't remember our lunch from last year.  I'm guessing it was at Milestones Restaurant, but I'm not sure.  

This year I've told the girls that the day now belongs to them, now both mothers themselves.  They're free to spend it how they like.  They're mothering.  I'm not.  And then it struck me.  I'm also not being mothered.  I'm in limbo.  But really I'm not.  I'm "grandmothering", I'm "grown up mothering".  What I'm doing isn't mothering.  It's mentoring.

Gone are the days when I'm up in the night with babies as my girls are now.  Gone are the days when I'm caring for curious, talkative preschoolers all day, or running kids to sports, volunteering to lead their clubs or sports teams.  I no longer have teenagers petitioning to stay out late or wear make up.  I've mothered.  I'm done.  But I'm not done mentoring.

I firmly believe, and my belief was proven right this past month when I lost my Mom, that we look to our mothers through out our lives.  Regardless of our age.  Whether we realize it or not.

By relegating my Mom's Mother's Day to Friday, I had told her, that I was the one mothering now, it was my season, hers was past, just as I've now passed the day on to my girls.  But what I failed to realize, was her season hadn't past.  That a mother's season is never past.  

This past week, as I've begun to plan how I would honour my own girls' first Mother's Day I realized how much I'll miss having my Mom here.  As an adult, as a 45 year old grandmother, who is long past needing to be mothered, I miss having my Mom here.  But not for her sake, for mine.  I'll miss her hand writing in my Mother's Day card.  I'll miss how lovely she'd have looked for our Friday date, always so well put together, with a pretty outfit and matching accessories.  I'll miss her interest in my kids and their babies.  I'll miss knowing that even though I no longer live with them, that just across town my parents were there, in their little town house, still together after 51 years.

What I realized, is that no, my mother was no longer mothering me, but she was still mentoring me.  Through her actions, her choices, the silent examples, that I'd overlooked until now, that they're gone.

I thought I had outgrown my mother's influence, I was wrong.  Yes, I know how to run a home, plan a party, raise a family, but her influence far out reached these things.  I think what I'm missing most is knowing that I'm loved by my mother.  Which is a very unique kind of love.  The kind I see in my girls' eyes when they hold their babes.  Sheer and utter delight and devotion.  Regardless of how old I became, I was still my Mom's baby.  This is what we don't out grow.  This is what, regardless of what we've already learned from our mothers, regardless of what skills of theirs we perfect or even surpass, we never stop needing.  

So this Mother's Day I'll delight in the joy of my daughters' first year as mothers, in the joy of being a grandmother and in having had a Mom who loved and delighted in me until her dying day when, in her last lucid moment we spent together, she told me how very proud she was of me and of the family I'd raised.  And I can live off that until I see her again one day.

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