Welcome! I'm Cookie's Mom. You can learn all about Cookie and why I blog here: About Cookie's Chronicles. If you're new here, you may want to SUBSCRIBE TO MY RSS FEED. Thanks for stopping by! Pull up a beach chair and be my guest, won't you?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Guest Blogger:
Deborah of The Monster in Your Closet
"Mother, Child, Mother"

Today's guest blogger is another one of my most supportive blogging buddies, Deborah of The Monster in Your Closet. Deb always has the most interesting things to say. She's not afraid to tackle controversial topics or to voice a strong opinion. I admire her gusto, and her strength in light of some very hard times, including losing her mom to cancer - a path I have been down myself. Despite these challenges, she maintains the ability to see the positive and lighter side of things.

Deb lives in Los Angeles, California with her Baby Daddy, 21-month-old and dog! You can learn more about her journey through life and motherhood at her blog: About Deborah

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Let's get to know Deborah better:

Favourite word:
Favourite family outing:
Disneyland! I work a mile away, but that doesn't lessen its appeal one bit
Favourite emotion:
Gratitude (Sensing a theme here?)
Favourite song:
Brother Israel's "Over the Rainbow"
Favourite famous person:
Joss Whedon, hands down. Buffy alone would've made me say this, but Buffy and Angel? And Firefly? Win!
Favourite of my posts:
Six hands for lifting: on my mom, mental illness, fear & hope

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Mother, Child, Mother
by Deborah of The Monster in Your Closet

I used to like kids even less than I liked shopping. I enjoyed neither, but the margin between the two was wide enough to cozily engulf about a million planets the size of Earth.

What changed?

Some months ago, a girlfriend determined my wardrobe unsound and demanded I go on a shopping expedition with her.

I'm not sure why she did this. Sure, I'd had my son more than a year prior and most my clothes were baggy on me. Maybe, just maybe, they were not the most fashionable garments I'd ever worn in my life. But they fit! And they were, by and large, clean, given that my son wasn't spitting up on me every third second anymore. Did a toddler’s mom really need anything more from her clothing?

My girlfriend shot down my totally reasonable protest, so I set up a shopping appointment. I'm a professional, after all; if something's marked in my calendar, I can't very well miss it, can I? That's a very unprofessional thing to do absent mitigating circumstances.

Unfortunately, no mitigating circumstances presented themselves here. I was forced to go shopping.

I was just starting to get into the swing of things when my youngest sister, Mads, called. I didn't mean to be the girlfriend who goes shopping only to ignore her real-life buddy in favor of the phone, so I ignored the call.

Mads called again. I ignored her again. Perusing scarves in the checkout line, I told my girlfriend, "I have to pick it up if she calls back again. She never calls three times."

She called back. I answered the phone and grumbled a hello, only to have my sister launch into a long-winded story about going to the dollar store here and the grocery store here and--

"The point, Mads. Get to the point."

"I'm pregnant!"

Impatience fled the building. After 10 minutes of two-way gushing, I had to end the call nevertheless—shopping, buddy, and all that.

Fast forward two months. My precious little monst--erm, toddler--was tearing the house apart while I booked a hotel room on my land line. My cell phone beeped, so I picked it up and checked the beep's source. It was an innocuous two-word message from my other sister, Rache. Those two words read, "You up?" I knew, instantaneously, that what they translated to was, "I'm pregnant."

I mean, really. Is the mother of a 20-month-old up at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning? Please!

For the next three weeks, I was forbidden to share the news. Rache wanted to make it through her first trimester before she made her announcement. Understandably, she didn't want anyone else stealing her thunder.

Over the course of those three weeks, I had a lot of time to think about children. Generations. The circle of life. I remembered finding a "+" where I'd expected to see a "-" in January 2009. I remembered thinking life was over, and feeling distraught by an erroneous belief that my plans of pursuing a career change to medicine had been obliterated just as completely as they'd been built.

I recalled talking with Rache in July 2009. She told me our mom's doctor suspected Mom had cancer. I will never forget the way I felt I was suffocating when Rache told me the diagnosis had been confirmed, or how the world stilled in February 2010 when Rache wrote that our mom was really, truly dying. Now.

Sixteen months later, the grief of reliving these moments is overwhelming. And yet, there's one emotion that's stronger still.


After receiving my sister's message about my mom dying, I flew up north with my then five-month-old son. I stood at my mom's doorway and wondered if she would recognize her grandson. Would she have the energy to hold him? To smile at him? I was frozen with fear for what seemed like an eternity, but I opened the door nevertheless. 

What greeted me was a kind of love that's greater than pain. It's larger and more enduring than cancer, which only lasts as long as one's physical body. Love, by contrast, persists in the hearts and minds of those who have shared our lives with us. In the moments after I opened my mom's bedroom door, it took this form:

My mom passed away three weeks after I took this photo. Cancer stole her body, but it couldn't touch the love that remained after her breath departed. Nor could it touch the gratitude in my heart that "when people plan, G-d laughs."

I didn't mean to be a mother, but it's being a mother that's brought me closest to my mom since she passed away. As I wrote in this entry:
As my son’s cries gradually tapered and his body melted against my chest, I was stunned by the revelation my mom’s life wasn’t all tragedy. It wasn’t the sum of its highlights. [ . . . ]

There were karate chickens and thunder thighs. There were oddball thrift store and garage sale finds she delighted in passing along to her children. And there were, I saw finally, moments of peace amidst the chaos. Many years ago, she held me, nursed me and rocked me to sleep, knowing the incomparable joy of being everything to me. Later, she did the same for my sisters. My brother. Much of her life might have been spent scrambling to fulfill obligations she never seemed to get on top of, but that didn’t negate those precious moments where she was able, simply and sweetly, to be all she wanted to be: Mom.

It took being a mom myself to see the beauty of these simple moments and to understand ignoring them would be working further disservice to her.

As I rocked my son to sleep that evening, I felt my mother in me. I felt how I am a continuation of her, and how my son will be a continuation of both of us.

I rejoiced.

After I laid my son down, I sat at the head of his crib and watched him sleep. I sat there till it was too dark to see him, then rose with a smile.

If I’d never meant to be a mother, I could not have been gladder that G-d meant otherwise. But for failure of my plans–not to mention contraception!–there is so much I would have missed.
Someday soon, I won’t need to explain this feeling to my sisters, because they will know. They will hold their precious babies in their arms and understand the incomparable joy of being everything, in these moments, to them. My sisters will feel rocked and embraced even as they themselves rock and embrace.

And me? You can bet I'll dismay at shopping just as much as I always have, but my dismay has departed where children are concerned. I know now something that I didn't before. Kids may bring a lot of poop--literal and otherwise--but they also bring hope, and the joy of knowing that all the powerful, unbreaking love we've shared will continue to shine long after our bodies perish.

Try buying that at the mall!


  1. Deborah, this post is so beautifully written. Those of us that have lost a mother know the depth of the emotion that you carry around your relationship with her and your memories of her suffering.

    I also understand the perspective that can come from experiencing this loss. I'm so happy that you were blessed with a son at just the right time and that you had this full-circle experience. How wonderful it is that your sisters will now have this experience too and that you will all deepen your bond through this understanding.

    Thank-you so much for opening your heart and pouring out the contents for us. Thanks from me, in particular, for echoing some of my own feelings of connection to my mother since having my son.

  2. Thank you for that beautiful intro to TMiYC/me, and for the chance to guest blog here. I'm as grateful am as I am totally undignified in my excitement this morning. :)

  3. Beautiful post, Deb. A pleasure to read, as always.

  4. Deborah, I knew I wouldn't be able to get through your post without crying. Such incredibly powerful words and I can feel the love for your mom and son flow straight through the computer screen. That picture of your mom is the sweetest symbol of love! It took my breath away. Love is more powerful than death. Your son is very blessed to have his grandmother's love and your love each and every day. Your mom is still with you, I know this to be true. When I gaze at my kids, I can feel my father's love for me continue on and on, even though he never held them in this lifetime, he watches over them. I wish you nothing but many more days full of peace, love and blessings.

  5. beautifully written, even though you made me cry! You truly have a gift with words Deb, and your heart shines thru with every paragraph.

  6. wonderful, absolutely wonderful. it's funny how the plans and expectations we have in life is merely a suggestion to the bigger plans that He has for us =)

  7. It is no way I can get a deep sincere feeling at the mall like reading this post. Deborah story is very heart warming and each time I read the story of her mom and the love that she has for her touches my heart.

  8. Such an incredibly beautiful post, Deb. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

  9. As always, my beautiful friend, your words found their way into my heart. Thank you for sharing your gift of the written word with us and thank you for sharing your family with us as you do in each of your posts.

  10. What a delightful tribute to the power of love--and the connections that family can bring--mom and children, sisters, grandparents. It is a blessing, the love you have shared--continue to share. I appreciate that you shared with us!

  11. Your words gave me so much hope, as I am at that stage in life when my kids are moving on, college, graduate school, jobs, but not quite thinking about family yet. Sometimes I wonder if they will ever know what I experienced being their mom & loving them. Or if I'll be around when they finally 'get it'. I'm so grateful you wrote this, it's made my week more beautiful.

  12. In the interest of the least amount of confusion for all, I'm replying to the names listed here even where I know your real names.

    fromthebungalow, thank you, both for these words and the ones preceding. Those preceding were a part of what helped me reach a point where I could not only write but share something like this.

    miraclemama, I didn't make it through your comment without crying. I wish I felt it all the time, but there are these moments where I can feel the love as if I am enveloped in my mom's arms. I wish my mom had a chance to meet the two little ones soon to reach this world, but I hope they'll look at that picture of mom and Li'l D and understand--someday--that's the same look she would have had for each of them. I'm grateful, too, that those little ones will know the love of a no-longer-quite-so-small family. That, too, is something my mom would have delighted in. Your words are ones I delight in here and now, and I thank you so much for sharing them.

    livelaughloveliquor, thank you. Is it bad that I'm happy I made you cry? I think that means we shared a feeling, and a hope, and that's evidence of the continuity of things--in time, in space, in our hearts, as long as we share these things.

    Rachel, I'm starting to get more and more plan-oriented, but writing this reminded me of the merits of having patience! Sometimes it's not my plans that are most important, and as long as I can accept that graciously . . . there's so much possibility open to me! Thank you for reading, and for commenting. :)

    startingoveringermany, thank you. If Li'l D feels for me what I feel for her someday, I will have done it right. I try to remember that when I start sweating the details or worrying I'm doing little things wrong. It's not those little things that will count in the end. It's what's left over, which is more than the sum of all those individual experiences.

    pinwheelsandpoppies, thank you for sharing these words. My ability to both write and share these things is a direct result of all the supportive, caring hearts whose words have informed me it's OK to share. The first time I posted something with real detail, I posted with great anxiety, fearful of what might be the response. Now I know that, while there might be an errant hateful comment someday, far and away greater are the gentle, supportive words. Seeing that a little more with each post has helped strip away some of the wall that I placed around myself when I wrote my earlier entries. I'm so grateful how this has all shaped up, thanks to the kindness of friends I haven't yet met.

    Liz, thanks not only for these words, but for being a voice of love and reason when I struggled to make sense of the senseless. I may not have met you yet, but your presence is a constantly felt warmth in my heart.

    bestdogmurphy, thank you for reading, and for commenting. I'm so grateful for the connections established through sharing these pieces of my soul--and through others sharing their own, in comments and in their own entries.

    createabeautifullife, there are some days I wish I could've learned just a little faster! There are things I understand better now than I did even 17-18 months ago. I'd love to build a time machine and visit my mom, to tell her about these moments of revelation. But in my heart I hold the last moment where she comforted me as best she could, as Mom, and in rough moments and moments of victory alike, I retreat to that room in my heart and share the moment with her. Like that moment, the beauty of which I only comprehended one-tenth of when it happened, I feel like your children may realize it fully a little later than they'd like, but that they absolutely will someday.

    all, thank you so much for reading, and responding, and allowing me to let my mom's love shine through me though it cannot shine through her anymore. I am so grateful.

  13. Goodness, what a wonderful post. Life moves and weaves in unexpected, sad, and amazing ways. I look at my own mother so differently now that I am one myself. Becoming a mother wasn't something she planned either, but here we all are, kids, grand kids, amazing.
    I love this post, thank you so much for sharing with us.

  14. As I read this, I'm holding my 18 month old daughter with my 6 month old son asleep next to us in a bouncer. I pause to oblige the kisses my daughter requests and found myself wiping away tears as I found myself in a moment not far off of the one you described. Thank you for putting yourself out their with the raw emotions your experiences brought! Thank you!


  15. Such a touching and loving post Deb. The way you talk about Motherhood, your own mother. It's amazing how differently we see our own Mother's once we become one our self.

  16. Very honest and open, as always. =)

  17. OMG Deb!!!! I have something in both eyes And running down my cheeks! Floods I tell you! And it truly says something about the beauty of this post when you can touch someone who isn't a mom herself. So much emotion...
    G.R.A.T.E.F.U.L. for this.

  18. Awww, you're tugging at my heartstrings Deb!
    I used to contradict my mom a lot back in the day and she'd tell me...you'll know when you become a mother yourself. And it is so true. We just laugh at it now. Motherhood has changed me in more ways than I have ever imagined.

  19. What a heartwarming and touching post. You are right about what being a mother can do to us and it is for me the greatest gift from God.

  20. Beautiful and heart-breaking. I can't say a lot about motherhood, but this post was beautiful.

  21. A beautiful and touching post, Deb. Thank you.

  22. Theresa, thank you so much for your comment. I, too, see things so differently now--and am so grateful to say that truthfully, and with such joy! I feel pretty honored to have this entry back to back with your also beautiful post from today.

    Abby, thank you for commenting with such kindness and sharing these words about your children. The tenderness of the moments you describe fill me with such love. My little guy's asleep, but right now, I'm imagining the goodness of holding him and laying a kiss atop his mess of curls.

    Bees With Honey, it really is amazing, isn't it? In all senses of the word. I feel so blessed. Thank you!

    acleansurface, these are the things I strive for, now that I've felt the goodness of them! :)

    Kristen, I can't say exactly what it was, but when I read your comment, I got something in both my eyes. (Maybe, a la Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias, I have a strict policy that no one cries alone in my presence, even if its a virtual presence?!) Thank you for reading, and for saying so. ♥

  23. Deb, this is a beautiful post. I'm too young to imagine myself with kids yet, but sometimes, when I see a new mother or father holding their child, I get a glimpse of the world that will open up to me one day, when I feel ready for it, and my heart swells a little.

  24. Deborah, you've got me near to tears. And I'm only 19 years old! I'm still yet to experience all of the emotions you have, but even still, you've got me on the verge of crying my eyes out. The loss of your mother is terrible, but I'm glad to read that you still have her in you. And I'm sure your son, and perhaps future children, will continue their lives and families with her still in them. That's what I'd like the day my mother will pass, for her essence to be in myself, my children and theirs. Hope you're well Deb, and well done for being a guest blogger! I'm sure you have made a worthy impression! ♥

  25. I cannot get enough of your writing, Deb. Everything I read is better than the piece before.