And as I've adjusted to her distance, and been able to visit her new home, I've realized how much I am like my mom, and how much that has become my goal.
My sister and I text my mom on a near daily basis. Her cochlear implant isn't fine tuned enough to allow us to call her on the phone, so we text, send pictures, and occasionally email. When something goes wrong, she's one of the first if not the first person I text. The same is true when something goes right.
That's what I want.
Right now, that's easy. Jace lives in my care, I tuck him in every night and and spend the majority of my not working time with him. But what happens when he's 18, 21, 30 years old? I want to have the relationship with him (and any future babies) that my mom has worked hard to have with us. I want to be someone he wants to talk to, not that he communicates with out of obligation.
Nathan is one of her kids now. There's no real distinction in how she treats him over her biological children, because when I chose to marry him, he became her son. He gets the same cheesy birthday cards and texts (actually, she's yet to forget his birthday, but she did once forget mine!).
I intend to do the same.
I've written about it before, and I've told Nathan he better hold me to it: Jace's spouse will become one of my children. Welcome in my family, loved, and treated as one of my kids, complete with being embarrassed and hugged on.
Questions, no matter how awkward, uncomfortable, or strange, got an answer. Specifically, anything regarding sex. She made a very strong effort to let my sister and I both know that we could talk to her about anything, we could ask her anything, and we could tell her anything. The end result? I don't get backward and shy now talking about sex, or porn, or other tough topics. Honestly, I think that open dialogue with my mom is one of the things that helped me to be as transparent and honest as I am on this blog.
So Jace, bring on the awkwardness.
Is it going to be easy? I highly doubt it. I don't know what age Jace is going to come to me with questions about sex, or girls, or anything else, but I know that I'm going to do my absolute best to make sure he knows he can keep coming to me with his questions.
However she worked, she worked hard. For the majority of my life, my mom was a stay at home mom. I don't think I ever would have said my mom didn't work, because it was both her joy and her job. Our house was always spotless, dinner was always homemade, and she was so involved with us. When my sister and I were little, it was playing Play-Doh and coloring with us. As we got older the activities varied, but it was always clear that she intended to connect with us. When we got to school teachers asked where we had gone to preschool as we were doing so well, but we'd never attended preschool, we spent every day with mom. As teenagers, we had an unofficial family book club where all three of us would read the same book and discuss it. Would a 40 year old woman typically pick up a Harry Potter book? Probably not, but she read them, actually loved them, and held dialogue about them with us. Because they were important to us.
I pray for Jace to say the same.
I'm not a stay at home mom, but I work hard to be a homemaker. Laundry is done, dinner is cooked, family outings are planned, and I clean almost as regularly as my mom does. In my own experience though, I've also taken Jace to work with me. I've let him see my office and try to understand that each day I come here to earn the money so we have the food that I cook and the outings and vacations. I like to imagine that, even if he can't see it now, he's learning the value of work.
Finally, she takes her role of mom seriously. She taught me that a mom loves her children, no matter what. When I was a teenager, we fought, I screamed I hated her a handful of times, and dreamed of moving away from her rules. She wasn't my best friend as a teenager, she was the warden. Looking at it now, it was because she loved me. Because she wanted me to be safe, protected, and because she was doing the best she could at this whole "mom" thing that does not come with an instruction manual. And now that I'm older, I am grateful for it. I am so grateful for how I was raised, with respect, with a work ethic, for the priority she placed on time with her family. I'm grateful that no matter what my attitude, I never once doubted her loved and never doubted that I was wanted in her home and life.
I want the same for my family.
Sometimes, to be a good mom, I will have to be a mean mom. I will have to say no to parties, or activities, or events. I will have to enforce chores, limit screen time, and restrict access to websites and shows. Sometimes, my babies will tell me that they hate me, and if I'm doing the right thing for them, it will be something I can live with. Because my mom did it, and even if I didn't like it at the time, my mom was right. And I can be that mean mom, while still fiercely loving my child.
So mom, thank you. Thank you for showing me what it truly means to be a mom: with selfless love, wearing hand me down clothes from your kids, driving to new states for college interviews, enforcing a curfew, making our home the place my friends always wanted to come hang out, being there to listen to my day, creating the Harry Potter dance, teaching me how to laugh at myself, and just being you. I hope it makes you proud to know that my mom goal is you.