My mom died at the age of 45. Yes, just 45.
Around Mother’s Day, the reality of just how young she was hits me hard. As a mother of two young boys, I’m evaluating my own motherhood journey and in the absence of my mom, trying to give myself some sound advice for this next year.
My mom was a family doctor. She got her MD at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s from Johns Hopkins University. Brilliant, most would say. She was in generally good health, petite, never smoked, never had more than a glass or two of wine, and had lots of energy. Not someone you’d ever look at and think, “They’ll die young.”
But ovarian cancer doesn’t discriminate.
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I don’t think she prioritized herself the way she should have, although who could blame her? I can’t imagine how tough it would have been to prioritize yourself as a mother of five, wife, and household manager with a demanding career. I have no idea how she even did it all, let alone did it so well.
When she died, she had five children between the ages of 4 and 18. I’m sure she never imagined at 35 or 40 that she had less than 10 years left to live. I’m sure she didn’t imagine she wouldn’t see her youngest go to kindergarten or her oldest graduate college.
That’s the thing with death—we never know when it’s going to happen to us, and we all tend to live as if it’s light-years away.
Gosh, I just can’t imagine my kids not having me as they go through life. My heart hurts and tears fall even thinking about the possibility.
All of this reflection has me reevaluating my own life. I need to exercise more consistently and eat less crap. I need to somehow find (okay, make) time for silence, breathing, and true relaxation.
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I can’t tell you the last time I sat for even 15 minutes and did deep breathing or sat down and mediated/prayed/pondered/relaxed. I’m always doing. It’s very difficult for me to relax when housework isn’t done, bills aren’t paid, or I have work to do—and all of these things are endless. I don’t think there is or will ever be a time when at least one of those things doesn’t need doing. I need to figure out how to relax despite and in place of it.
It can wait. It can wait. It can wait.
My health and mental well-being are far more important. Who cares about any of that stuff if I’m in an early grave because of stress? It’s not worth it.
Let’s hold our mom friends accountable to control what we can to be there for our kids for as long as humanly possible.
Cheers to health and accountability this Mother’s Day and beyond.