One of my friends used to be a nanny. When the kids in her charge cried, “I want my mommy!” she would respond, “I want your mommy too!” I don’t know if it made those children laugh or cry, but I think about it when my daughters are having a cranky day, and I wish I could order a substitute mommy for them and also when I don’t make dinner because they desperately want to snuggle after school.
“Can you please snuggle each other?”
“No! Mommy, come sit./Snuggle me!/Sit with me!/I want to lie down on you!”
Who could resist?
After five years of parenting, it still surprises me how much those girls need and want me. No matter what I do or say, whether we’re getting along or not, whether I’m attentive or distracted, my daughters still crave me. While we all love their incredible daddy very much, I am their primary parent; their soft, maternal parent; their one and only mommy. I was marveling over this one night as my older one drifted to sleep on my chest, and then it hit me …
Why in the world does it surprise me how much my kids want and need me when I miss my own mom so terribly, awfully, gut-wrenchingly much?
How is it possible to miss someone like this when they’ve been out of your life more than they were in it? My mom has not been there for so many of the milestones of my life. She has been gone from this world for 23 years yet is still so present to me. There have been some days, months, and even years where my grief wasn’t in the forefront of my life, but lately, it has returned.
I might be a mommy, but right now I want my mommy! — I’m facing another potential milestone without her: deciding whether to have a hysterectomy.
I’ve lived in persistent pelvic pain for over a year now. An old pelvic injury was inflamed when my postpartum periods came back with a vengeance. No amount of pelvic physical therapy, birth control/IUD to stop my periods or pain medicines has been the answer. Now I’m considering surgery that will make my periods stop so that the PT and meds will actually have a chance to work and I will no longer live and parent in pain.
And I really want my mom. I want to talk to her about how to make this decision. She’s been part of this journey from the start: the very moment I discovered I’d begun my period, she was with me in the bathroom of her office at the College of Charleston. So many times, she picked me up from school early because my always-heavy period caused me to bleed through my tampon, pad, and clothes. Even now, she’s with me as I remember her bravery and ability to make jokes about illness while fighting breast cancer.
What I really want is to be able to call her when I freak out about the surgery and recovery. I want her to stroke my hair. To hold my hand. To be proud of the mother that I am as I try to parent my daughters through my pain the way she parented me through hers. While I love my wonderful dad very much, my mom was my one and only mom. I can’t bring her back. But I can be grateful we had the time we did together, and I can channel her strength and inner beauty during this big decision, and during the next one after that.
About Jennifer Coleman
Jennifer first became excited about the prospect of building a New Orleans life with her husband, Jonathan, while he commuted between New York City and New Orleans for his urban planning job in 2007. Fast forward to the present, and they’ve lived in the Crescent City for eight years, become proud parents to Evangeline (age 3), Vivienne (age 1) and Claude Cat (42 in cat years), and recently bought and fully renovated their first home. Originally from Charleston, SC, Jennifer has a BA in Journalism with a minor in Women’s Studies from The University of Georgia. She worked as a journalist/editor in Manhattan and then founded a pet sitting business when she moved to New Orleans. (Pet sitting is like parenthood: you sit on the floor to play, and clean up a lot of poop.) Now a stay at home mom, she’s usually found pretending to be an octopus or changing baby doll diapers; entertaining (and possibly one day embarrassing) her daughters with show tunes; researching kid toys and products; seeking out new family adventures; daydreaming about fancy restaurant meals while eating grilled cheese; and staying up way too late voraciously reading fiction. Jennifer will always tell you in the same sentence that parenting is as devastatingly beautiful as it is challenging, and that she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.