It’s true how you never fully appreciate your parents until you become one yourself. That is when you see how big their love for you really is and you begin to grasp how much they have done for you. If you have been blessed with amazing parents, they were probably the first ones by your side as you began your own journey into motherhood. You probably call your mom and ask her “is this normal?”, “was I like this as a kid?”, “do you remember when…?”, “should I call the doctor?”. Hopefully they take your kids, so you get a break or help you when you are sick. And most importantly I hope they get to know your kids, spoil them and become the best grandparents. For those of us living life without our parents, this is something we would give anything for.
My mom and I were close. She is the reason I had confidence soaring through the roof growing up and to this day. She was funny. She was strong. She could talk to and make friends with anyone. She was mine and my sister’s biggest cheerleader. She taught us to be kind, brave and understanding. She lost her battle to breast cancer in 2013. I became pregnant with my first son that summer and there is SO much I wish I would have asked her. But there were things I never thought to bring up. When you become a mom, your world changes. You gain an entirely new perspective on life. You think of yourself as a kid and how you were raised, but you also think of your mom too. How did she get through this hard stuff? She made it look easy.
My dad died when I was only 5 years old in a plane crash. Never once did I ask her how she got through that. How did she navigate motherhood as a widow with 3 daughters 2,5, and 6?? How did she take care of herself and us? Looking back, I am not sure if she really was taking care of herself. She was really good at putting on a smile and a brave face so my sisters and I had the best childhood despite the loss of my dad.
My dad was only 34 when he passed away. He was flying a private plane home with my grandpa and 2 uncles when their plane crashed into the Great Salt Lake the winter of 1991. People often ask if I remember him. My memory of him was that he was fun, he loved watching me do gymnastics and put on shows for him. He was wise, a handy man and hard working. My mom helped keep his memory alive for us. She shared stories and would constantly tell us how proud he would be of us. He loved being a girl dad. With her being gone, I find it harder and harder to remember those 5 short years. I have officially outlived my own father and let me tell you, it’s a weird feeling. When I turned 34, my 3 kids were the same exact age my sisters and I were during this life changing tragedy. For that full year, I could not stop thinking about my mom and how she handled this with such young kids. Who helped her? Did she have a village? Did she go to therapy? I also could not stop looking at my kids through the lens of myself at their age. I felt as though I was reliving this tragedy and I’ve been grieving all over again. For myself, for my sisters, for my mom, and for my grandma who had to bury her 2 adult sons and husband. I feel robbed of this grown-up relationship that others are blessed to have with their parents. I mourn the loss for my kids, that they never got to meet their other grandparents. Being a mom is hard. And being a mom without a mom is the worst.
I am the person I am today because of both of my parents. The drive and ambition I had as a young USAG collegiate gymnast stemmed from the loss of my dad and that has bled into my current career as FIT4MOM Franchisee and will continue to forever be a piece of me. I am determined, I persevere, and I navigate challenges because I know I can. My mom taught me that. I am brave because of her. Although they are gone, their presence lives in me, and my kids.
I know I am good at finding the positive in all situations, but sometimes all we want is for someone to say “This is really terrible. I hate this for you. I see you; you are not alone.” So, if that’s you, I see you and I get it. You are a good mom. I am sending love and light.