A few weeks back, my friend Leah and I started a podcast. I've been thinking about doing one for a few years but just kept putting it off. My brother and nephew even brought their old mixer for me to use, all the way from England! I made up lots of excuses but I guess a global pandemic seemed like a good enough reason to get started. Plus, I found the perfect person to do it with.
We've covered a few things. We talked about the crazy shit people have told us (and sometimes we believed), aging and, in the latest, we talked about advice we've received; good and bad.
Mother's Day was last weekend. It's the first time I wasn't a mess, thinking about the death of my mom, nearly five years ago. I had a few tears, but I was mostly peaceful and quiet.
Leah is a mom. She suggested we talk about mothering in a future episode. I knew she meant all aspects, including being mothered. But it somehow made me feel uneasy.
As I've been trying to do lately, I got curious about what is behind the uneasiness.
I'm not a mom, at least not a mom of a human child; my fur baby counts but it's different.
But I was a mom to my younger brother Jason. He died nearly four years ago. He was eight years younger than me and he was more like my own son than a brother.
Jason had a disability. He had Klinefelter syndrome. He was diagnosed a little later in life. He was picked on at school and generally had quite a challenging life. But he was also one of the most inspiring humans I've ever known. He was not afraid to be human nor fearful of showing people his true self. He just didn't have a filter. He had highs and lows, and he had trauma and joy. He was loved and respected in his community. He made mistakes and when he did, it pained him deeply.
When I think of mothering, I think about my own childhood. I remember being little but when my parents split when I was barely a teen, I don't remember feeling like a kid again; at least not for any sustained amount of time.
I remember being at a counselling appointment after my first marriage ended and getting news that something traumatic had happened to Jason. I spoke about it with the counsellor and she said we must do something about it immediately. I was falling apart already, but he needed me.
During my last year of college, my mom's partner died. She was devastated. I was living with her, picking her up at work when she couldn't cope, and still going to school. I ended up seeing a counsellor at the college, to talk about my own grief.
By the time I was nearing the end of my 30s, I was exhausted. I never really knew who I was or what I stood for. I didn't feel like I was living my life for me. I felt lost.
There were times in my life that I felt I would have been a good mom, but I was terrified to mess it up. And I made the choice not to have a child on my own. I just didn't feel like I had the tools and I had so much work to do on myself.
I think some of my memories of 'mothering' are still painful, maybe that's at the root of the uneasiness. Maybe there's a bit of regret too.
But deep in my heart, I don't feel like I missed out. I have had a full life thus far.
And maybe I have mothered more people along the way than I realized; maybe in a good way, maybe bad.
It will be an interesting conversation.
I'm scared but I'm willing to dig deeper.