Her picture sits on my desk within my line of sight when I sit down at my computer. But it would be a lie to say I think about her every day. I don’t anymore as much as it pains me to type it. It’s been six years and nine months since I lost my mom.

I have three kids and most weeks are a frenzy of packing lunches, cheerleading kids out of bed and out the door in the morning, driving carpool, cooking dinner, reading books at bedtime, and doing it all over again the next day.

My 4-year-old asked me recently, out of the blue, “Where do all the moms come from?” I puzzled over what she was trying to ask, scrutinizing her little face to try to decipher her meaning.

She persisted with, “Where is another mom going to come from for you?”

She knows my mom is in Heaven and wanted to know from whence my new mom would come. I tried to explain that I’m all grown up and I won’t get another mom, although I have aunts, dear friends, and a stepmom who are all important to me.

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We moms spend our days taking care of everyone in the house—kids, pets, partners, sometimes our own parents. But the truth is I feel mom’s absence acutely, a dull ache I can’t shake, in those moments of exhaustion where I just want someone else to take care of me.

My 44 years of life tell me these chapters are just part of adulting. Whether it’s marital discord, illness, job loss, financial stress, or a child with a seemingly insurmountable challenge. A chapter will unfold before you where you feel stretched to your breaking point. It’s happened to me more than once in the six years since mom has been gone.

It’s in those moments I most mourn her loss.

It’s selfish and perhaps childish as I reflect on it. But sometimes I want someone else to find the right words to say during the hard season. Or even, someone else to make dinner or buy the groceries or plan the holiday festivities or bake the birthday cake. Someone to envelop me in a hug and tell me, with unwavering certainty, that it’s going to be OK.

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I’m married to a wonderful man, but he’s burdened by the same stressors as I am. And he carries the added weight of managing a professional career and providing for the rest of us. We support each other in all the ways we can, but sometimes we’re both running on empty.

I’m thankful for friends and family who lift us up in hard times.

But no one takes care of you like mom.

Losing a parent is a unique pain. Healing after the Loss of Your Mother is a heartfelt guide for those mourning the loss of their mother, as well as the loved ones helping them through their grief.

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Joanna Owusu

Joanna McFarland Owusu is a freelance writer and editor. A federal government analyst in a former life, Joanna now spends her days wrangling two tween-age sons and a preschool daughter.