My mother was beautiful. She was elegant and stylish. She always looked immaculately put together and ready for anything.
She was a wonderful cook, and was able to keep 6 kids and our Dad happy, well fed, and healthy on a very tight budget.
Mom was an artist, and could paint and draw in ways that left me amazed.
As the oldest daughter in a family of six children, I grew up very much in awe of my Mother. She was fiercely opinionated, always outspoken and she never backed down from a conflict. I remember her as the champion of young girls in town when one historically snowy winter had her contacting the principal of the local Junior High School to demand that her daughters be allowed to wear pants to school. “I will send my daughters in skirts when all the boys have to walk to school with bare legs, too.”
She was my hero.
By the time I was old enough to understand the concept of time, I wanted to grow up to be exactly like my Mother. I wanted to be smart. I wanted to be artistic. I yearned to know how to cook and I was determined to become a mother myself.
So much of my life has seen me happily copying my Mom. So much of it has seen me wanting to echo her strength and her resilience.
But something has changed in the past few years, and it has shown me that my mother can still teach me lessons even as I reach the age of Medicare.
Mom is 91 years old now. She has overcome cancer, pneumonia and even Covid 19. She still lives in the house where she raised all of us, where she cared for our Dad through several illnesses, and where she watched as he died.
Most of her children are still around her, still sharing meals in that same kitchen, still watching TV in that same room.
Along with my brothers and sisters, I try to take my turn visiting Mom, and doing what little I can to help take care of her. She has a lovely woman living there as her Home Health Aide. She watches TV, and naps in her favorite chair, with her sweet little kitty on her lap.
I come to visit, bringing home made soup or a pasta dish. We chat and smile and watch a bit of TV.
Then I get back into my car and head home. And I think, for the first time in all of my long life, “Please, universe, please don’t let me be just like my Mom. I don’t want to live as long as she has.” Please don’t let me follow in her footsteps as she gets to the end of her path.
I love this life. I have had a wonderful, joyful, hilarious time on this funny planet. I am in no real hurry to leave.
But please, dear Universe and gods and goddesses and fates, please don’t let me live so long that I am unable to cook my own dinner. Please don’t let me live to be a woman who can no longer sing, or swim in the ocean, or pick my own herbs, or write a blog post, or read a good story. Please don’t hang onto me so long that my children worry over who will weed my garden and who will wash my hair.
Life is a sacred gift. Each of us has our turn on center stage. Life is a fabulous blessing.
I am eternally grateful for the life I have been given.
Please let me squeeze lots more laughter out of it. But please, please, send me on to the next big adventure before I am unable to remember the pleasures that came with this one.
14 thoughts on “For the First Time, I Do Not Want to Be Just Like My Mom”
I think you have hit on some very common feelings. When there is no joy left in life than let us move on. I just recently lost a friend just a month short of her 96th birthday. Even though her sons were incredibly caring, I think the Covid isolation did her in; she decided it was time to pack it in. Up until the last few months of her life she did fine and liked living in her own home, but what should have been a minor illness tipped her over the edge, and she decided enough was enough. If I have to live as long, I hope I can live it as well as she did. I will miss her.
Yes Karen you’ve hit the nail in the head!!!
I’ve said the same words many times, my parents are 88 & 90 and are learning how helpless they really are😔 They are miserable and we all do what we can to help but it’s just getting worse! I pray at each visit that my life will not mirror theirs… you are not alone♥️
My Mom is not miserable, luckily. She is calm, generally serene, but…..I live in fear of outliving my spouse, my friends, my memories, my social life, my favorite activities. And I fear becoming a depressing duty to my children.
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“And I fear becoming a depressing duty to my children.”
I seriously doubt you could ever be summed up as a “depressing duty.” No one wants to be a burden, but there are burdens we want and those we don’t. I have a feeling that your children will gladly care for you until you are ready to go “home.”
Well……I think it is a very tricky and very complex question. I love my Mom very very much; we were incredibly close for most of my life. Even so…..the pressure to do what I do not feel capable of doing is a constant worry and source of pain.
I understand. We didn’t use to hang around long enough to feel like a burden to anyone. I don’t wish that burden on my children either. Two of my sisters were much more involved in caring for my parents. I live halfway across the country. My reaction, I think, is that I didn’t get the time I would have wanted to be with them. My grandmother slept for two weeks after my grandfather died. She complained that no one took care of her. She was so out of it that she didn’t remember that my mother had been there the entire time. My grandmother had cared for my grandfather on her own up until two weeks before he died, so her exhaustion was more than earned.
Exactly. My father died after 10 years of strokes slowly took away his life and his ability to enjoy it. I get it.
Oh boy, me too. Me too.
Thank you so much for writing this. Sometimes it seems like I am the only person in the world who feels this way.
I know…. I feel guilty when I think it, but……I don’t fear death.
I recently lost my Mom after years of watching her slowly decline with dementia. The mother I knew & loved disappeared years ago to this wretched disease and I often found myself thinking how much she would have hated the so called life she was living towards the end years of her life. I totally understand your thinking on this one.💕
It is just such a hard, long, difficult road…..I’m so sorry for your loss. As a mom, it breaks my heart to imagine it.
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I understand how you feel, Karen, from the perspective of experiences with both of my parents, and now personally, with some of my new life realities and limitations as a still independent woman in my mid-seventies.
My plan, dear Sue, is to switch my diet to donuts and martinis on my 80th birthday. If that doesn’t do it, I may take up skydiving……
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