Motherhood can be a lonely, soul-sucking, monotonous struggle on a good day. Cranky kids throwing Cheerios on the floor and rejecting bottles and refusing to nap can make the torture of a self-assessment and review at work seem like a cake-walk – and you may even get a raise out of a review! With kids, your source of feedback as to whether you are doing a good job is the very task at which you are working on and boy, can they be tough customers some days. Life lines during those moments are your family and friends and mentors. Those people who tell you you’re doing a good job even when it feels like you’re the worst mommy in the world for ignoring that cough overnight that you only realized was an arbiter of much more when you found your kid covered in dried vomit the next morning (I know I wasn’t the only one, right?).
My favorite life line was my husband’s Aunt K. She had a wonderful habit of calling me out of the blue, in the middle of the day, just to see how I was doing, to chat, to share something that happened that made her think of me. She would ask me questions and listen to my answers, really listen. She’d regale me with stories and anecdotes and just when a baby would start crying or a fight break out amongst siblings, she’d tell me what a great job I was doing as a mother. A woman who worked her whole life at making the world a better place through her jobs and board appointments and mentoring, she supported me when I chose to stay home with my first child. Then, after the second child and I decided to go back to work, she was equally as supportive, encouraging me to follow my dreams while empathizing on how hard it must be to balance work and kids.
She also had this beautiful habit of complimenting our marriage. Who does that? But Aunt K would, pointing out something in a conversation or story I told as an example of how we were doing it right, how much joy she could see the hubby and I brought to each other’s lives, constantly reminiscing about our wedding and the loving, joyous occasion it was.
Every time we spoke, I’d hang up the phone so much better for our chat. I would joke with the hubby that my ego boost had called that day. Aunt K and I didn’t chat as often as I would have liked, but every conversation was worthwhile, satisfying and cherished.
Aunt K passed away last night after a long battle with a body that just couldn’t power her fabulously curious mind and compassionate heart anymore. Although we had been expecting this news all week and I truly believe her soul is now free from the struggle it endured in her corporeal body, I am still left deeply empty today.
She left behind a sister, two nephews, a niece, two nieces-in-law (I don’t know if that’s a thing, but I’m making it one), three grand nephews, a grand niece, as well as more friends, colleagues and mentees than I can count.
I wish that her body had been as strong as her mind and heart. The world is a slightly worse off place today because she’s gone, but an infinitely better one that she was here at all.
Godspeed, Aunt K. May you set down your burden and let your soul fly free.