raising kids after my mom's death hiplatina
Photo: Courtesy of Shayne Rodriguez-Thompson

Raising Kids After My Mom’s Death is One of the Hardest Things I’ve Ever Done

When my second child was just three months old, my mother passed away unexpectedly and my world was turned completely upside down. Though by that time we were separated by many miles, my mother and I had always been incredibly close. She was and in many ways still is, my anchor. I’ve been raising my two young children without her for nearly three years, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. It’s still one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life and I’m convinced it always will be.

Shortly after her 57th birthday, my mom died due to complications from heart disease and diabetes. Of course we all knew she was ill, but she was working with medical professionals on a treatment plan and even after her passing, her physician insisted that he had hope that her conditions would improve. Needless to say, we were not prepared for her death at such a young age.

raising kids after my mom's death hiplatina
Photo: Courtesy of Shayne Rodriguez-Thompson

At the time, I had a three-year-old who also had a close relationship with my mother and a three-month-old whom I desperately wanted to know her Nana. Less than 48 hours before she passed away, my kids had talked, sang and laughed with her on the phone. It brought us all incredible joy.

Like most mothers, mine’s was the person I turned to when I didn’t know how to handle situations with my own children. When they were sick, or fussy or just being naughty—I’d call her for comfort and advice. Though I didn’t always take her advice, I often times did. Even when I didn’t ask, I used the things I learned from her during my own childhood and applied them to my parenting.

Her kindness, love, discipline, encouragement, and knowledge guides so many of the decisions and actions I make for my own little family, and not a day goes by that I don’t wish she were a phone call away. Not a day goes by that I don’t mourn that she can’t see how big and beautiful and smart and strong my children are growing up to be. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how my youngest doesn’t remember her voice and that one day it will fade from my oldest’s memory.

She isn’t here to help me as a fourth generation Boricua in the U.S. keep our culture alive for my children. They won’t hear the beautiful Spanish that tumbled out of her that I did as a child, they won’t ever taste the incredible Puerto Rican feasts that came out of her kitchen. The feasts everyone who ever knew her still talks about to this day. They won’t ever hear her deep, throaty laugh or get a big bear hug from her, and it absolutely breaks my heart.

Though I did have my moments when I complained when she was still alive, now when I hear friends complain about their parents’ attempts to influence their parenting or spoil their children, I cringe inside. If only they knew how much they’d miss it if their mothers were gone. It’s definitely true that our moms can get under our skin like no one else, but for most of us, it’s also true that no one will ever support us and love as unconditionally as they do.

Don’t hesitate to call your mama, to ask her advice and help with your children, and most of all, to thank her for all she does and all the love she gives.