• Thu, Jan 17 2013

Anonymous Mom: I Resent Other Women Who Still Have Their Mothers

shutterstock_73401649Anonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

It always happens when I’m reading Corduroy.

The book about the little teddy bear searching for his lost button inside a big department store was my favorite growing up, so when I found my old copy at my parents’ house recently, I liberated it to read to my son. What I didn’t know was that reading that book to my 9-month-old boy would bring me to tears nearly every time.

My mother died, extremely suddenly, a little over two years ago. She had a rare heart attack and literally just dropped dead at home one day while my dad was at work. Despite the fact that I was living overseas at the time, she and I were incredibly close and her death is still something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully process. I try not to think about her or her passing very often, because when I do, I feel like I can barely function. I’m no use to anyone like that. It’s much, much easier to distract myself with day-to-day life rather than dwell on the loss I feel.

Having a child, though, makes it about a million times harder to ignore how much I miss her. When I call him names like “pumpkin” or “angel,” when I read books from my childhood, even when I scold him for trying to touch power outlets, I can hear her voice coming out of my mouth. It makes me long for her so badly. I feel like I can’t breathe.

My mother would have been the most incredible grandmother in the world. Even before I even thought about getting pregnant, she would practice saying the baby names I liked so she could “get used to them.” She even planned how she would fit a car seat in the back of her Volvo convertible. She would have loved my son more than anyone could love anything, and I look at him now and I’m just so angry that he’ll never know.

I can try to explain it to him and tell him stories about how wonderful she was, but at the end of the day, she’ll always just be his dead grandmother — just a lady in a picture who looks a lot like his mom.

The anger I feel that my son was cheated out of this experience is just amplified when I see all the other new moms who get to have their mothers with them to give advice and be there to help with their babies. It’s completely irrational and immature and wrong, but I actually hate other women for their mothers.

They get to have their moms babysit and shower their kids with gifts and do so many things that I’ll just never know. After I gave birth, the jealousy I felt watching the proud grandmothers visiting and staying to help out at the hospital was intense. Despite my new-found motherhood, I just wanted to throw a childish fit, to scream at these happy families about how unfair it is that my son and I can’t ever have that kind of relationship with someone again.

And that’s all it is: childish. I know these feelings aren’t right and I know that these other people have nothing to do with me, my son, or our situation. I know that some women (like my husband’s sisters, for instance) have mothers who are living but don’t care to do anything for their grandchildren. There are plenty of worse things that have happened and are happening in the world every day, and at least I have a beautiful, healthy little boy to share my life with.

But it doesn’t take away the ache when I see a mom and daughter laughing in the park while pushing a stroller. Or the pain I feel when  look at the pictures on Facebook of my friends’ kids’ first trip to Grandma’s house. Or when I read the first few lines of Corduroy in a voice that sounds so familiar and know my children will never understand where it comes from.

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(photo: Madlen / Shutterstock)

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  • Andrea

    Your feelings are your feelings, you can’t help them. Not that you asked for advice, but it might be worthwhile to explore your feelings with a therapist. You are carrying a lot of grief. It’s different when someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly. We have no time to prepare. Not that we can always prepare, but you know what I mean. Maybe if your mother had passed away at a very advanced age, after an illness, surrounded by her family, you could have processed it better. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Lisap

      I agree on the therapist. You have every right to feel how you feel but it sounds like it is causing a lot of grief in your life. You owe it to yourself and your son to at least explore better ways of dealing with it. Everyone deserves to be able to look back on loved one and be able to remember the good things.

      Hope this gets easier for you over time.

    • kim

      greif counseling definetly helps. ive been through this and it really helps you to know that what your feeling is perfectly normal and they kind of prepare you for the road ahead

  • Jendra

    I understand this. I lost my mother when I was 16. Getting married without her was okay. Sad at times, but I felt her presence there. But this… now I’m pregnant, seven months along, and it aches. And I can’t read The Velveteen Rabbit without tears.
    I’m past the anger stage. I’m 30 years old and my grief just lives with me quietly now. But I am sad and my heart has a hole the shape of my mother inside of it and it aches when I see new mothers with their moms sharing the experience together. It’s like losing her all over again.

  • K.

    You don’t sound childish; you sound grief-stricken. I hope that this doesn’t sound too hopeless, but I believe that sometimes, when it involves the loss of someone very precious to us, we will live with grief forever; we may never come to terms with certain tragedies.

    But living with grief is different from grieving through life. Living with grief doesn’t mean that you can never find peace or that you will never live joyfully. It just means that you will live changed.

    If you are, however, grieving through life, I agree that someone who can help you work through the sadness and the anger and the resentment might be something to pursue. Suffering is a terrible thing. No one should have to do it alone, including you.

    I am so, so sorry that you lost your mother.

  • Lori B.

    I can relate to this so much. I too lost my mother two and a half years ago. My husband lost his mother seven years ago. My daughter’s only knowledge of grandmother is my husband’s 92 year old grandmother. I get so jealous of my friends who have their mothers and their husband’s mothers to vent to and to help out. Our fathers are great grandfathers. My father helps out as much as he can, but it is not the same. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of something I want to tell my mother or a question I want to ask about being a mom. My daughter was one when my mom died suddenly and has reached so many milestones since then. Those are the times when I miss my mom the most. My daughter started walking shortly after my mom died and it was bittersweet because I wanted to clal her and tell her so bad. My friends’ children have great relationships with their grandmothers and it breaks my heart a little to know that my daughter will never have that. We try to keep their memories alive by showing her pictures and telling stories. My daughter will often pick up a play phone and tell me that she is on the phone with Grandma and it gives me a little hope that she has some kind of connection to two wonderful women who she never got to know.

    • StephKay

      Thank you and the author both for putting into words exactly what I needed to hear. My husband was very close to his father. He had his plane ticket booked to come help us with our first baby, and called us to confirm all the details of the trip. He mentioned he was coming down with a cold and would be extra careful around the baby. Well that cold ended up being strep, which turned to sepsis, which turned to multiple system failure and he was gone within a week. He died on Christmas, three weeks before his first grandchild was born. He was a 56 year old, macrobiotic, vegan, Buddhist, pro-drummer, brooklynite. The last person you would expect to be struck down by something as innocuous as strep throat. I know it hurts my husband immensely, but he can never put it into words. Your stories are exactly what I needed to hear to help understand what he’s feeling. Our daughter talks about her grandfather too, and I hope there will be a connection there. I know it’s comforting for my partner that his dad knew a little girl was coming and already loved her very much, I know it will be really hard on him when our first son is born any week now. It’s the first milestone without his dad, and that milestone being the start of a new father-son relationship must be really painful for him.

      Thank you so much for sharing, and I am so sorry for your loss. I’m sure your daughter is a wonderful piece of your mother who will bring you joy for the rest of your life.

    • Lori B.

      I am sorry for your loss as well, StephKay. I am also due with a boy in April and I think that will be really hard as well without my mom to share in the joy.

  • Michelle

    I would feel exactly the same way if I lost my mother. My uncle passed away suddenly at 40 last year and I found a children’s book that he gave to me. I was fine til I noticed that he signed his name along with the date from when he was 11 in the book and I lost it. Grief changes with time but that doesn’t make it any easier.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    That is 100% understandable; you’re not being childish at all. Grief is grief, and it doesn’t just stop one day. I lost all my grandparents before I was three, and miss not getting to know the fascinating people they were – but by telling him stories and showing him pictures, you’re doing exactly the right thing, because it will give him a person to miss.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-Listrud/100000336648087 Kimberly Listrud

    ((hugs)) to you whoever you are. my mom was killed 6 years ago and everyday I feel pretty much like you do. I hate too that my son will never know his grandma (or his grandpa, he died a month after my mother was killed) and that I don’t get to share this experience with her. It sucks bad. You feel like you are drowning sometimes underneath all the emotions, and I get the not being able to breathe thing too. :( This is a club no one should have to join. again ((hugs)) to you.

    • kim

      im sorry for your loss. 6 months ago I joined this club as well. my mom died out of nowhere and I felt like my world totally fell apart. she was only 52 and was 2 weeks away from getting married. it was the hardest thing ive ever been through. watching my kids go through their milestones I sometimes almost grab the phone to tell her. I keep wishing id flown in sooner to say goodbye. I feel like the emotions drown me. people tell me to move on but it isn’t that easy

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-Listrud/100000336648087 Kimberly Listrud

      Sorry for your loss as well. I agree it is not that easy to move on.

  • Heather

    It’s a club I suddenly joined last year and it sucks. I guess I was lucky that my mom got to meet both my kids and spent the time she did playing with them and loving them. My daughter had just turned three and my son was 10 months old when my mother died last June. She had a stroke in March and never recovered. The morning she had her stroke, she dropped homemade cookies off for the kids. I get so angry still, and it all seems so unfair. Most of all, I feel bad for my mom, she so desperately wanted to see her grand kids grow up and she never even got to see my son take his first steps. I am lucky that my mother-in-law is very involved, so the kids do get to have a grandmother in their lives, but at the same time, she can never love them enough to make up for the love that they lost. Not a day goes by that I wish I could just have a few minutes to just call my mom and chat, like “normal” people can. I’m sure that as time goes by, I’ll get used to this new reality. In the meantime, I too cry every time I read Corduroy to my daughter. My mom got it for her for Christmas last year and inside the front cover reads “Christmas 2011. Your Grammie loves you.” It breaks my heart every freakin’ time I see it, but I will keep that book forever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaitlyn.mcwilliams Kaitlyn Catherine

    I identify with this post very much and my heart aches for you because I feel exactly the same way. I found out my mother had terminal lung cancer this summer only a week after I discovered that I was pregnant with my 1st child. I went from thinking ‘Oh great, she’s going to be bugging me 24/7 to see the baby” to wishing against all odds that she would even make it that long. She didn’t, but even at the end when she barely knew what was going on she never forgot to ask how the baby was doing. I think that speaks volumes to what type of grandmother she would have been.

    I get really angry at people who take their mothers for granted now. And yes, it’s sad but I do get jealous too sometimes. I don’t think you ever really realize how much your mother loved you until you get ready to have children… and it’s such a harsh realization if she’s already gone.

  • Marie

    My mom had a heart attack Dec. 7. Although they restarted her heart, she never regained consciousness. We had to remove her from life support after about a week–her body was shutting down and she was gettting a terrible fever, the EEG showed extensive brain damage, etc. I will never forget the sight of my mother dying though. It was awful. We were so close and I knew she was terrified of death. Unlike you, I did get to have my mom involved in my children’s lives, and I am happy for that. This has its downside too, though, because they, especially my daughter, were extremely close to my mom, and now I have to deal with their grief too. My husband’s dad is still alive, even though he’s had dementia for years and is 80.
    I get mad sometimes that my mom died at such a young age and he’s still living. I know that’s terrible. The truth is, none of us gets to pick when we die, and we can’t even count on going in any kind of reasonable, age-related order. I feel your pain, including the hyperventilation/punched in the gut feeling. I don’t know if it will get better, but just wanted to let you know you are not the only one. Hug your baby :)

  • chance

    My mom died 3 months before my son was born, 11 years ago. To be honest I am still bitter over other people having their moms… or even worse, when they complain about their mother. These feelings dull over time, but as far as I can tell they do not disappear. I wish peace and comfort for you.

  • RMR

    I understand. I lost my dad and my daughter doesn’t have eithe grandfathe because he dad’s parents died years ago. It’s rough. :(

  • Carm

    From the grandchild’s POV, my mom was 15 when her mom died and she has expressed these same feelings many times over the years. There’s a book on motherless moms that she really identified with (I’ll look for the title). Even though I never met the grandmother whose name I’ve carried all my life, there’s a part of me that feels as though I do know her. I’ve heard so many stories about her no-nonsense attitude, struggles moving to the US, and fierce love of God and her family that I love her as though we’ve shared many moments together. I imagine your mother’s absence is more painful for a daughter than a granddaughter since you clearly remember her physical presence and support, but I suppose all I want to say is that you can keep her memory alive in your family for generations to come. Her impact will not be felt in the way you had imagined, but I pray that over time her grandchildren will know beyond the shadow of a doubt how much she would have loved them. You being a wonderful mother is a testament to your mom every day.

  • ZakkysMama09

    This just made me cry because I understand. I’ve been living in Australia for 4 yrs and have a 3yo son who has never met his Ama. It breaks my heart because my mom waited so long for me to have a child and now she’s missing out. I’m hoping to get home this year, but it still doesn’t erase the feelings I have inside, just like you. I’m just lucky she’s still alive.

  • Tess

    I lost my mom 28 years ago when I was 20 and she was 48. I’m now 48 with so much to still do and experience, and I realize just how young she was when she died. I feel like my life would have taken a completely different course had she lived. The thing I’ve yearned for the most was her advice and friendship. My life is great; I have a wonderful husband, 2 children in college and one in medical school, and a very peaceful and fulfilling life, but there’s always that tug of grief when I see extended families out together at restaurants or other public places. I wonder how much more enriched my life and my children’s lives would have been with her.

  • Amanda

    I can somewhat relate.. While I am not a parent myself, I have never had a mother. Well, physically I have, but she has severe paranoid schizophrenia. Growing up, I changed my siblings diapers & took care of them from the age of 7 while my dad worked. I also had to take care of my mother, who was more of another child in the house than anything. I never had a mother to tell me stories of their childhood, to give me a hug when a boy in school broke my 13 year old heart, help me when I got my period, go prom shopping with me, teach me how to apply makeup, pack for college, nothing. When I have children, they will not have a grandmother to do the same for them. I have always been extremely jealous of girls/women who actually have mothers, especially those who took advantage of them or even had a close relationship with them because I never have and never will be able to experience that. While I know its not my mother’s fault, it hurts and tears me apart inside.

  • Kelly

    I can sympathize, as I have thought about this situation after my mother died. She passed very suddenly from an aggressively spreading cancer, while I was away at university. While I do not have any children, or even a husband, lately I have been wondering about my future. If I decide to have children, I know they won’t have her there to be their grandmother. It makes me very sad, too. But, I hope that someday, I will have a mother-in-law that I could be close to. In any case, I still have other women in my life that love me and help me in similar ways that my mother did. Look around you, and see if you can find the supportive women in your life: a sister, sister-in-law, aunt, cousin, friend, etc. Take the love and wisdom that your mother gave you and pass it on to your children, it’s the best heirloom they could ever inherit.

  • Amy

    I can totally relate. Thank you for putting into words what I feel guilty about feeling

  • Jynee

    I completely understand how your feeling. My father is very ill with pancreatic cancer which hit just before the holidays. He is declining rapidly and not much himself anymore. Its heartbreaking to watch him suffer knowing I cant do anything to help, and that he will be leaving us soon. I dont feel jealous so much as angry that is suffering, angry that he wont be here anymore. Im also sad because he wont get to walk me down the aisle when I get re-married. Due to issues out of our hands, we cant get married yet for a while and he will not be here when it does happen and it just kills me. My heart is breaking and im so sorry that you have lost your mother. Those feelings are completely normal.

  • Del

    Thank you for sharing your story. My father passed after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. It had been difficult to communicate with him via telephone for some time and I never got to tell him I was even pregnant. To visit him involved a 13 hour flight and I was not thinking I would make the journey until the baby was at least 6 months old. I had the baby on Dec 1st and on the 15th I received the phone call from my half brother that he had passed. It was as if he knew that I would not risk the baby’s health to be there, he would not have wanted me to see him in the state he was when he died. I felt everything from guilt to jealousy to anger over his death and the fact that my daughter missed out on such a wonderful grandfather. I felt jealousy and pain when my daughter asked me if she could call my mom’s new husband “grandpa” and I know it’s not her fault, she is a sweet child and he is a grandfather figure to her though they live far and she does not spend much time with them. But I can’t help but feel hurt by hearing her call him and not my daddy, grandpa. He would’ve loved her to pieces. I grieved for him as I watched him die and I now grieve for the loss my daughter has unknowingly experienced and it just sucks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/corinne.vanderkaay Corinne VanderKaay

    My mom passed away last Christmas from cancer. I have a 4 year old daughter and 2 year son. Thank you for posting your story. Your not alone.

  • kim

    I feel your pain..my mom died 6 months go suddenly after getting an infection from surgery. it came out of nowhere and she passed while I was on the airplane trying to get to her. I have 2 children who I wish she could watch grow up. I feel bad when I see my cousins who have their mom and all of my friends doing things with their moms. im only 24 and its hard looking ahead and realizing I will never see her again.

  • Missinggrandma

    Hello, I feel so related to what you wrote. I don’t have children yet because I was waiting to accomplish certain things. My mother and I were very close like you and your mom and I was living overseas also when I found out that she was not going to beat the cancer she had for around three years. I took care of her the last three months of her life and even though it was not sudden like your case, it was so sad to know that day by day I could not give her anything else but my time and at one point it was going to be over. Anyway, she also was so happy thinking about when she will become a grandmother. She used to tell me how she would help me, which things she would do better now with her grandchildren, etc. She would have been a wonderful grandmother. Now that she is gone, I have turned a little bitter about women with their mothers and when they have children I feel so sad because I don’t feel l want to have a child anymore. I don’t have more family where I live but my husband and to know that there will be nobody to help me out not just with the baby but with that emotional support and advice that only a mother can give you, breaks my heart. I get distracted like you with everyday life and try to avoid to think about this. It was comforting to know that someone else understands how I feel and that I am not a monster for feeling the way I feel. I guess one day I will accept my situation without any bitterness.

  • Rachel

    I never knew my grandfather and my dad doesn’t talk about him that much, but of the few times that he does it’s always something like this so thank you for writing this! And I wouldn’t fear for your son, I manage to miss my grandpa even if I never met him.

  • http://shelovestocraft.blogspot.com She Loves To Craft

    Both of my parents died. My dad was 11 years ago, my mom 5 years ago. I just gave birth to mmy first child one month ago. i know how you feel. Becoming a parent has stirred so much up regarding losing them. It is like a whole host of things you hadn’t quite considered before. Some people have recomended greif counceling for you, and while that may help, I think that what you are feeling is completely normal and it will eventually become more managable.

    • http://shelovestocraft.blogspot.com She Loves To Craft

      And by the way, I never met my great grandfather because he died when my grandma was 12 but I feel like i know him becausw of all the stories and pictures. I know so much about him, like how i have his eyes and hiw he loved to dance and that he whistled all of the time. I know that he dove for abalone and that he loved to eat saltine crackers dipped in milk., your son will know his grandma as long as you keep her memory alive, just like mine will know his grandparents.

  • Dee

    Wow. This post could have been written by my. I lost my mom suddenly to a
    stroke a few years ago, while living abroad, and almost my first thought when I realized this spring I
    was pregnant was “I miss my mom.” She, too, would have been so overjoyed
    to meet her granddaughter, and there are days when I don’t know how
    I’ll handle having a baby without my mom around to counsel me. I’m lucky
    that my partner’s mom is excited and supportive, but it’s not the same.
    I barely know her, and her excitement is for her son, not for me. This post hit so close to home, I am bawling my eyes out.