Since losing my dad a decade ago, my mom has been rolling solo. Watching my mom lose her very best friend was almost worse than holding my dad’s hand for the last time. Part of me wanted her to find another companion. She certainly never planned to say goodbye to such a young husband and as each year rolled by without him, she was reminded of the plans they made but would never enjoy together. I watched this wear her down. She started to believe she would live the entire second half of her life alone. My fun loving and vivacious mother was turning into a shadow. If anyone deserved a second chance at love, it was my mama.
Alternately, there was another part of me, a selfish side, that appreciated having my mom all to myself. We had turned into the mother-daughter team that shared daily phone calls, impromptu morning cups of coffee on the porch, shopping trips, and Sunday afternoon cocktails. We belly laughed at things others never thought were funny. I had a permanent babysitter, a built in cheerleader, and an open ear when days at work sucked. We planned our lives in tandem, creating new traditions and finding our new normal without my dad. Deep down I knew that sharing her with someone else, if that day ever came, would be difficult.
When my mom fell into a whirlwind romance it was so easy to be happy for her. Her eyes were full of hope, her lively spark returned, and she felt genuinely loved and uniquely special. We talked about her dates and swooned over adorable gestures. We marveled at the way similarities in spirituality, love of the lake, and losing a spouse to a rare blood disease could bind two hearts so quickly. It was strange to be on the other side of dating conversations but it was an exciting time and I couldn’t help but get caught up as she was being swept off her feet.
My mom decided to get married. The new life she molded has forced ours to reshape. She is making new plans and she isn’t available any time of the day like before. She is splitting her time and sharing her life. I can’t just show up for a red beer or expect that she will come on a whim to hunt for non marking sole tennis shoes to fit a 5-year-old. Childcare has to be arranged in advance and my dinner offers are sometimes turned down. I imagine this is how she felt when I started my family with Daddy D.
Now, I’m working on my next, new normal and fighting to find balance. I still instinctively look down the street of my childhood home every time I drive by to see if my mom is there, even though she moved out months ago. I’m still working on letting go and breaking routine habits. But, just this morning I called her as she was thinking about dialing me. She came over for impromptu breakfast like she has over the past 10 years. I still get to settle in the comfort of her company and laugh at things that only we think are funny. Sometimes I get to enjoy hours at the salon with her and sometimes she’s at the lake.
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