Today, it’s an honor to introduce you to Jessica who’s sharing her unique journey to and through motherhood as part of our month-long guest post series, Special Mamas. Jessica has been grieving the death of her mom for nearly two decades. She’s a wife and mama of little ones now, but her mama-less heart still aches for the everyday presence only a mom can fill. I had the great privilege of meeting Jessica at a writing conference last fall, and have since made it very clear to her that I hope our paths keep on crossing for many years to come. Jessica is a beautiful writer with a beautiful story and a huge heart. Please extend a warm welcome to my writing sister, Jessica.
It frightened me how the grief choked me to my core – 38 weeks pregnant, lying on my bed fending off a cold and all the questions rolling around in my brain. Sobs rocked my body and threatened to crack me down the middle.
My husband tenderly asked me what was the matter and after what felt like a short eternity of tear filled gasps I managed to lisp out, “I just miss my mom so much. I want her to be here to take care of me.”
My mom didn’t die last year. No, she died when I was twelve. I’ll be thirty-one in two weeks.
We never stop needing our moms. We just don’t. I’ve ridden the waves of grief for nearly two decades now and I can promise you that nearly every day I have found a reason to need my mama.
Now to be fair there are a dozen women who have come alongside my motherless heart and loved me well. My mother-in-love is one of these dear women and I never want her to think otherwise. She is kind and dear and medicine for my mama-less heart.
The tangible loss of a biological mother? It’s like having the umbilical cord cut all over again, but this time you feel it and it drains you hollow in all the mother needy places.
The grief isn’t always so heavy. No, grief finds you in weakness. It finds you when insecurity hits and it makes you feel like half a person, less than a woman, a mother with a limp. It makes you doubt your ability to mother well.
Lisa-Jo Baker writes often about children walking around “like so much eternity with skin on” and that is true to be sure. But mamas, we love like eternity with skin on and when we leave it can feel as if the very presence of love leaves along with us. Our work, the mundane of it all, is eternal in the richest most important sort of way.
I see this clear on a Tuesday afternoon. My three year old daughter calls for me from her room as she wipes sleep from her post-nap eyes. I walk into the room and scoot her over to make room for myself and a few quick snuggles before the day moves on.
Out of the blue she asks me if I miss my mom. I’ve talked to her about my mama and explained things in the best way I know how to her little heart and mind, but this question blindsides me. Tears well immediately. She brushes her tiny hand across my cheek and I exhale deep as they fall.
She looks at me with her brown eyes wide with the questioning and tells me words that hitch my breath in my chest, “Don’t worry mama. We’ll find her.” I guess in all my explaining I never realized how confusing the phrase “I lost my mama” could be to a three year old.
The truth is I do find her.
I find her in the strangest places. I find her up around my daughter’s eyes when she laughs. I discover her in myself when I deliver a meal to a friend in need and recognize all the good stuff about my mama replicating itself in me. I glimpse her in the mirror when I put my makeup on and I wrestle the thought of “Am I becoming my mom?”
The mama I lost has become the mother I’ve found by becoming a mother. The doe-eyed daughter with the questions has been my mama come full circle in the sweetest of ways.
What I once thought disqualified me from motherhood, the not having a mama, has become the fire in the furnace of my daily calling. Motherless mothers embrace their calling in a uniquely passionate way. We know the power of motherhood.
In all the mundane places of my day there are pieces of my mother. Her life with Jesus stretching out into eternity and my scraping to find Jesus, or rather allow myself to be found by Jesus, collide in the daily. I wonder how I’ve lived so long without her, but the truth is I have never been without her or Jesus. My knowledge of the two so closely mingled because she knew the power of loving well and giving me heaps of Jesus along the way.
There is a fear that comes with motherhood. It is the fear we will have to leave our loves early. The most frightening part is we have no control over whether or not this happens. We have to love into the darkness, the unknown, the unexpected breaking of living in a fallen world.
We have to do this because someday, most likely, we will leave our children behind. The most important question we can ask ourselves is, “What are we leaving behind for our children?” On those days when your shirt is soaked from the sink full of dishes or the van is full of fast food bags and sweaty jerseys, lean into your calling.
Motherhood is not a momentary calling. It is a work of eternal value.
Believe me, I know.
Jessica Leigh Hoover is a wife, mama, writer and grace lover. She lives in the hills of North Carolina but has the red dirt of West Africa in her soul. She blogs about her belief that grace is the biggest kind of brave and how life is messy and beautiful in the living, losing and loving. Her favorites are Jesus, family, chocolate, vintage anything and British accents. You can find her on her blog, facebook, twitter, pinterest, and instagram for more.
Jessica & Baby Photo Credit: Sarah Siak Photography
This post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 13 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. At the bottom of the post, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!