Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. It is the one day a year that the most phone calls are made. If you rarely speak to your mother because you are too busy or you just don’t have a very close relationship, tomorrow is the one day you will definitely call. If you can. I can’t. My mother died four years ago. It was the worst day of my life, even worse than the day my father died, eighteen years ago, today.
My mother (Mami) was an amazing woman. She was strong-willed, caring, and loved us, her daughters, and grandchildren. When I was growing up she was not a “hugs and kisses” mom. She did not have an affectionate mother, so I believe it rubbed off on her. Later, as she was getting older and we had children, she became affectionate. I suppose the babies brought that out in her. She hugged me and held my hand, and I loved it! I asked her one day why she was not like that when I was younger, and she said because she did not know any better and it was one of her biggest regrets. I believed her. I could see it in her eyes that she wished I was a little girl again so that she could be a different kind of mom. Although as a teenager, I often told her I wished she were a different kind of mom, less strict, more affectionate, less Dominican, and more American. I am glad she was not different.
A large part of me is who I am, because of how Mami was with me. I learned to be more affectionate with my sons because I know it is what they needed and what I craved. I wanted to love them and know they were loved all the time, even when they were naughty. I tell them now, I will love them no matter what they say or do. I love them completely. They made me a mother. They gave me the greatest joy the day I gave birth to them and heard their cries for the first time. I was a mom! What an amazing gift!
Motherhood may be challenging at times and stressful, knowing you are responsible for the lives of little people and how they will turn out as big people. Will they be good and kind adults? Will they be patient, dedicated, affectionate parents? Mothers carry a lot of worry and guilt about what they do or didn’t do right for their children. Personally, I question my decisions and how they affect my sons every day. It is my job to make sure they turn into good men, like their father and my father. Thanks to my mother, I know that they will be good men. She taught me everything I know. She taught me loyalty, faith, humility, kindness, and strength.
I was holding her hand when she died. It was almost a role reversal, as I (and my younger sister) were there for her as she had always been for us… when we were sick, when we were scared, or when we needed guidance. I watched her exhale for the last time and leave us. But she has not truly left us, she remains in our hearts, in our thoughts, in our memories, and most importantly, in the mothering of our own children.