A Letter to Kate Spade’s Daughter

Dear Bea,
Though I don’t know you, you’ve been on my mind since I heard the news of your mother’s death on Tuesday. You see, we now have something in common. We lost our mothers at an age that is much too young.

My heart breaks for you, and I am so sorry that this circumstance was not prevented. I hate that she’s gone, the publicity of it all, and the stigma around mental healthcare.

While my loss was nearly 30 years ago, I remember the initial emotions when you realize that your new normal does not include the one person you need most in this world. I remember the final arrangements being made, the peripheral family & friends coming to watch me, and shepherd me to different activities so I didn’t have to be there for the grown-up stuff. I remember what seemed like an endless sea of people who came to pay their respects and say goodbye, and being mystified by their adult tears.

And then one day, the last speck of dust settled.

And while I can’t say with certainty when that will be for you, I do know it will happen. Your new normal will take shape. I know you can’t see this now. But as time marches on, you will grow from the girl you are now into a woman capable of a great many things.

So, from one seasoned member of the motherless club to another, here’s what to expect as you embark on this journey.

You are not alone. Though you might not know anyone else in your school or circle of friends who has experienced such a loss – we are are out there. Finding our way. And you will too.
You will never stop missing her. Her hugs, her voice, her smell. Her presence on the other end of the telephone. This is the part that there is no sugar-coating. I’m sorry.
You will wonder what she would have thought about decisions you make as you grow up. And when you do, I encourage you to talk to those that knew her or keep a journal. Write down your memories of her, and revisit them when you need to.

Milestones and holidays will seem incomplete. This doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be happy – your graduation, 18th birthday, wedding day… Focus on the good and enjoy these moments as you grow.
You’ll begin taking notes on what other friends’ moms do – how they cook, clean, discipline or speak to your friends. You’ll meet nurturing women along the way and good ones will take you under their wing. Let them. You might not even know these women yet. They will be sent your way. Know that.
There will be things that unexpectedly scratch the wound. Hearing friends complain about their moms, being introduced to new people and having them ask an innocent question about your mom (because everyone at a younger age is assumed to have one). Those scratches, over time, will start to form a callous and then they won’t be felt as much. Again, just part of the new normal.

You will realize how strong you are.
You will have a greater appreciation for life.

You’ll have bad days, and that’s okay.
You’ll have great days, and that’s okay too.

And one day, if you become a mother, your heart will break all over again, and explode with new love at the same time.

But for now, dear one, while the particles of life as you know are still swirling in the air and it’s too cloudy to see out, give yourself grace to grieve. You can be angry, mad and sad – that does not diminish the love you have for your mom. Use the support system around you. Scream. Cry. Take deep breaths. And know that this loss does not define you.

Hugs,
Tanya

If you’ve also experienced the loss of your mother at an early age, you’re not alone. Check out my new group, Lilac Rising, to be uplifted and connect with other women who have the same experience. There, we tackle life skills we didn’t get growing up and move forward in life, while creating positive connections with others.

After 30 Motherless Mother’s Days…

Mother’s Day can mean a lot of different things to people. It’s meant to be a day for us to honor our moms, motherhood, and the maternal influence that women have in our society.

But let’s face it…. it’s really just all about moms.
And it can be a painful holiday for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons.

When you’ve spent almost thirty Mother’s Days without your own mom here on Earth, it becomes a holiday you observe other people celebrating.

On the outside, looking in.

Like the elusive “Bank Holiday” you see on a calendar. Or the independence day of a foreign country not your own. For me, growing up I felt the calendar might as well have had a big “N/A” on that Sunday. Not applicable.

Reminders of this holiday are hard to avoid in the spring. Commercials, promotional emails, and social media all dig and grate at you, reminding you to purchase the perfect gift to show mom how much you love her.
Plan to take her out to dinner! The spa or a day of carefree shopping!
Even the hardware store reminds me that gift cards make a great Mother’s Day gift.

For those without a mom, it adds to the noise of your day, hitting the well-calloused, internal compartment where you house everything mom-related to make it through the day and to keep going.

Side Note: There is nothing wrong with these commercials, emails and posts. I know this is just part of people doing their jobs. Heck, I’ve even shared some Mother’s Day gift ideas when I have something to promote. It’s part of normal life. And please, friends, don’t ever feel like you can’t talk about your mom around me.

Through my thirty motherless Mother’s Days, I was lucky enough to have grandmas, a step-mom, and now a mother-in-law to fill the gift-buying void – because these women became part of my tribe.

But it’s not the same, not really.

Oh, how I remember the elementary school crafts that we’d make as a surprise to take home to a mother who wasn’t there. (Ouch.) 

And oh, how I remember as I grew older, the dedications that friends would make about how wonderful their mom is, and how they wouldn’t be the person they are today without her loving support. (Double ouch.)

And oh, how my heart goes out to all the new, tiny members of this excruciating motherless club, as I know little ones lose their mothers too soon everyday.

So this Mother’s Day, I’m doing what I always do. I’m holding my head high, looking for the good in things, being thankful for all the wonderful people I do have in my life, and making her proud.

I’m thinking of young ones out there who may be facing their first or second Mother’s Day without a mother, who are wondering how they will make it through.

There are many wonderful organizations that support grieving children, so I’m taking my would-be Mother’s Day dollars and donating them to a grief center to help children process their feelings, experiences and transition into what their new normal looks like.

I’ve put a list of some such centers below if you’d like to join me in donating this Mother’s Day, but there are also local centers you can search for if you’d like to donate to an organization serving your community.
https://www.dougy.org/
https://childrengrieve.org/
http://www.comfortzonecamp.org/

Because I remember the quiet, 8 year old Tanya, meticulously finishing a school craft for no one.

Now that my life has come full circle and I’ve become a mother myself, I awkwardly face this day on the receiving end and cheerfully accept any flowers, handmade crafts, wobbly-planted flowers, hand-print collages or gift cards that my husband and sons present.

I celebrate my mom on Mother’s Day and everyday by being the best mother I can be.

If you’ve also experienced the loss of your mother at an early age, you’re not alone. Check out my new group, Lilac Rising, to be uplifted and connect with other women who have the same experience. There, we tackle life skills we didn’t get growing up and move forward in life, while creating positive connections with others.

I Made It

I made it.
This weekend my youngest turned 8 years old.
And I lived to see it.

You see, my mom passed away when I was 7 and my sister was 9.
I’ve had a mental milestone in my head since my boys were born, of seeing them reach 8 and 10.

Just make it to see 8 and 10.

Holding my breath until they were 8 and 10… and now they are just that.

8 and 10

They have officially had me in their lives longer than I had my mother in mine.

Success.
Elation!
Relief.
Joy.

Because I MADE IT.
THEY HAVE ME.
I AM HERE.

Every day after this is icing on the cake.

But why do I still feel like my body is a ticking timebomb?
And why is my mind now waiting for the other shoe to drop?

42… that is the new mental milestone.
Live to see 42.
Hope my body doesn’t betray me before then.  
Make it to 42… because she didn’t.

If you’ve also experienced the loss of your mother at an early age, you’re not alone. Check out my new group, Lilac Rising, to be uplifted and connect with other women who have the same experience. There, we tackle life skills we didn’t get growing up and move forward in life, while creating positive connections with others.