Mama Monday: Loss Can Make Better Parents (Book Giveaway)



Today, guest blogger Allison Gilbert, author of the new book Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Mothers and Fathers Impacts the Way We Raise Our Children, shares an excerpt from her book about how losing her parents has spurred her on to take a more proactive, less reactive role in her own self-care. Instead of waiting for others to surprise, spoil, wine, dine and fete her, she susses out what she needs and then MAKES IT HAPPEN. I’m inspired. I really am. We’re also giving away a copy of her book.

Here’s her book trailer:

From Chapter 10: Loss Can Make Better Parents

The most surprising relationship I’ve developed since my parents died, however, is the one I’ve cultivated with myself. For the longest time, I wanted to be rescued. I wanted my friends to care for me more than they did, and I expected my husband to anticipate my needs, even take my parents’ place. But he can’t. My friends aren’t my mom and Mark isn’t my dad and my parents are never going to fly back into my living room with their capes and magic rings and make everything better. What I’ve learned is that I can no longer go through life just being a mother, wife, writer, and homemaker. I need to take on one more additional role. I also need to be a parent to myself.

If Mark and I want to go out to dinner and see a movie, I stop feeling sorry for myself and call a babysitter. If I want to take the kids to an event my parents would have enjoyed but Mark has no interest in, I take Jake and Lexi and give Mark the afternoon off. And on Mother’s Day, I give myself permission to spend the day the way I want to. All of this represents a sea change in my thinking. I used to wake up Mother’s Day and hope Mark would surprise me with a gift certificate to get a massage or give me “permission” to skip Mother’s Day with his mom so I could take a class at the gym. I’d invariably get disappointed if he failed to read my mind, and start missing my parents even more. Surely they would have given Mark a friendly poke to treat his wife to a few hours of free time. Surely they would have coddled me the way I so desperately long to be coddled. But the truth is I don’t need to wait for anyone to treat me to anything. And I don’t think my parents would have wanted their daughter to rely solely on somebody else to take care of her needs, either. My parents, after all, taught me to be self-sufficient.

Giveaway Details:

Please leave a comment below with your reaction to this excerpt. How has loss positively impacted your parenting or personal growth? How do you mother yourself? In what areas do you need to do that more?

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17 thoughts on “Mama Monday: Loss Can Make Better Parents (Book Giveaway)”

  1. I’ve lost my mom pretty recently and I’m still in the mourning stage but her long illness and my father’s dedication to her care had left me “on my own” for a long time before she died… Taking care of others was “easy” but putting me first and caring for myself has take some time. Being gentle to myself and allowing time for adjustment are the biggest gifts I received. I don’t need to be perfect, I don’t need to instantly be ok with new situation, I can say “no” and the world won’t fall… This is a process, not a destination.

  2. you need to be a parent to yourself not only when your parents die but also when you are away from your parents. when one has to travel and live away from one’s parents, that is the time when one has to develop a strategy to parent oneself.

    Another golden rule is never to expect anybody else like a husband or a close friend to play the role of the parents.

  3. I actually lost my mother 3 months ago and I am still struggling with this not only personally but also with my parenting as well. It really has made me take a step back and look at how I am as a mother and what type of impact I will make on their lives when I am gone. I am so glad someone is writing a book like this to help people like me.

  4. On of the biggest fears I have is raising my child as I wish I was raised. My mother is gone 10 years now and I’m estranged from my father. I’ve suffered through years of addiction and I’m finally sober with a loving husband and a miracle of a daughter. I’m in therapy right now and we’re working on removing negative self-talk from my lexicon.

    I want my DD to have her own experience being raised. I do not want it to be a reaction to my feelings and how I felt I was raised.

    This book sounds very interesting to me.

  5. I lost my mother when I was 18 and became a mother myself when I was 20. Not having my mom around has made a huge impact on how I am raising my kids as well as taking responsibility for my own life. After reading the excerpt from this book I have added it to my must read list :)

  6. I lost my mom when I was 13. I am grateful learn about this book and eager to read it. I regularly get together with a group of other motherless moms. I am now 36, but amazed at how this early loss impacts so much of my identity even 20+ years later, and probably even more so now that I am a mom. I will definitely be checking this book out!

  7. I think this might be exactly what I need to read. I’m currently losing my mother, bit by bit, to early-onset Alzheimer’s. I’ve been caring for her and for my 17 month old son for the past year now, and it’s been so challenging – learning to be a mom, and to care for my own mother at the same time. Looking forward to checking this out – I need some positive thoughts on the subject!

  8. My parents never died. However, I was never parented. I moved out at a very young age, and I have been independent ever since. This loss of childhood and loss of being adored and loved by my parents has turned me into a zealous mother. To do what’s right for my children is priority. To breastfeed, not immunize, to give affection to my 8-year-old with an undying reminder that I will never leave her. I am also at times able to be a child again with them. To feel that is a healing to my heart. Loss has created a platform for me to change the cycle of abuse. I will not stand for it. I know what love should be. It is a verb.

  9. My parents are not physically dead, but figuratively they are. I have had no contact with them for 12 years. They weren’t really there prior to disconnection, but they are not there at ALL now. It used to bug me. It used to kill me actually. I didn’t have anyone to call at the end of the long day, to rejoice with me, to share in the births of my three children, to watch me graduate college. I was left to my own devices. It could have gone either way, I could have ended up in a gutter doing God knows what, but I didn’t. I knew how to fix this cycle of bad parenting. I knew from a very young age knew that only I could control myself my actions my reactions. I knew that I was in control of my life and as cliche’ as it sounds my destiny. Most importantly, I knew that my past does not define who I am, I had to make a choice to let it refine me!

    I’m not sure I parent myself, I did a lot of that when I was … say 19 or so. I held (and still do) hold myself to extremely high standards. I am my own worst critic, I sometimes wonder if that comes from my innate desire to have praise. To be told ‘great job!’. I am awful at taking compliments yet when I get one I soar inside. I need to work on cutting myself some slack, definitely. That will likely be a lifelong journey. I have forgiven my parents, I have released that anger. I know it does me no good, and it is only a disservice to my three beautiful children. Instead, we make the best of what we have, and i’m totally happy and ok with that!

  10. I’ve lost my mom, dad, and step-dad and I think it makes me appreciate my 10 month old so much more. Maybe, maybe not, all I have is my perspective. I also felt like I wanted someone to save me, know how I’m thinking/feeling, buy the thoughtful gift on the annivesary of their death, ect. But now I know too, I need to take care of myself or ask for help or what I need. I just blogged about a motherloss issue that came up for me. if your interested in checking it out. This book is now on my must read list too.

  11. I lost my parents in my early 30s and my mother died before I became a mother. I held the space for both parents to pass on and witnessed the magic of their passing at home. I felt a sense of closure with this part of the family life cycle and walking by their side through this last part of their journey (in this plane of existence anyhow) has given me clarity about what matters most in life, a renewed sense of my own purpose as a woman and mother, and the ability to be present with myself and for others. My experience with loss helped me understand the other side of loss. That is, that loss is also a gift. Loss by definition means giving something up. The biggest part of my personal growth comes from embracing this truth of the cycle of life. As a midwife, I witness new life coming and when I lost my parents I felt it going. Only the direction is different. The gift of both is ever present. The other side of “giving up” is receiving something far greater than you could imagine when you are first experiencing loss. Loss taught me how to accept life as it and feel comfortable being responsible for myself and for those I love. I cherish my children and my husband as they are, with far less judgment. Loss has opened my heart and mind to who I am, how I “mother” myself, and how I want to mother my children. I mother myself through my meditation practice, by wrapping myself up in a metaphorical “blanket of patience” when I doubt myself and doubt my ability to mother without still being mothered. What a fantastic book! Have been searching for one just like this for years. Thank you, Allison, for sharing your story!

  12. My father passed away October 2009. It has definitely changed the way I parent my children, and the way I guess I expect my husband to relate to them. I see even more now how important that relationship is, and although our children are very young still, I know that we are planting those seeds now. In a way I am still grieving his loss, and I am using different ways to channel that grief (writing for one). I am definitely adding this book to my to-read list!!

  13. I am a parentless parent. I have nver met anyone in my shoes before. I lost both parents before I became a mother. It has been very difficult. It’s given me a different sense of awareness I think other moms may not have yet tapped into. Not that I’m better, just that I see through a different lens, maybe then they do who have not experienced the loss of both parents not being around. I don’t really know how to answer the, “how do you mother mother yourself” question. I try to show who my mother was a little by saying things she would say or do what she might have done. I don’t know how I need to do that more. I feel alone in this area. I will probably purchase this book if I do not get selected as the winner. Thank you so very much Mothering Magazine for bringing it to my attention. The trailer was very touching. ~heather

  14. It’s amazing how pain and loss can make us essentially needy and that can turn into selfishness, denying our children’s emotional needs because of our own pain. I lost my mother and my father withdrew from the family and denied us a second parent. But in a book called Motherless Daughters, it spoke about even daughters who have not lost mothers experiencing the same feelings as those who had lost their mothers because their moms may withdraw emotionally because of their own mother loss. I will definitely read this valuable book. Being proactive about taking care of yourself and reassuring your children is an ongoing effort when you didn’t have this need met as a child. Many of us need ongoing support and reminders. How important to tell this story and for others to read!

  15. It is so comforting to me to know there are other parentless parents out there, that i am not alone. My mom died when i was 13, and left me with an incredible amount of overflowing love, that I have been able to pass on to my children, she taught me so much in the short time I had her, about kindness and optimism despite whatever is going on. Her unrelenting faith was the greatest gift she gave me, and I hope my kids learn more about her through me. My sweet dad, my kids adored Pop Pop, died quickly and unexpectedly 11 months ago. We are in some ways still trying to come to terms with it, it has been a devastating loss. I sometimes ache for my “daddy” so profoundly, and feel like an orphaned 6 year old little girl, instead of a 31 year old mom of 3 kid. Through it all though, I have learned lessons I don’t think I could ever have learned otherwise. I savor every single second with my kids, and realize how abundantly blessed I am.

  16. I lost my mom as a teenager. My parents were already divorced, and my dad just was never really there for me emotionally. I thought I was over my loss when my first daughter was born, but it hit hard 20 years after my mom’s death, with the birth of my second daughter this past summer. I would love to read this book.

  17. My husband lost his mother just a couple of days ago on February 21. We know it will impact how we continue to raise our children, and I want to make sure its for the better. She was a strong figure in our lives and we don’t want our children to forget their granny. I think this book will be a great help to us both in how to be better parents after our loss.

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