Motherhood, Parenting

Becoming a mother after losing my own

Carla McConnell by Carla McConnell
April 8th, 2017

When I was 21 my mother was killed in a car accident. It was a horrific life changing moment and my world has forever been defined by the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of the moment two policemen turned up at the door. In the grief filled chaos that was that night I remember at one point taking a deep sharp breath and then saying, “I’m going to have children one day and my mother is not going to be here.”

My mum was my best friend. It may sound clichéd but it’s true. She owned a restaurant and used to make me work there. And I say “make me” because every Friday and Saturday night she would drag me kicking and screaming to work, when I believed it was my teenage right to be off partying and kissing random teenage boys. When the night ended and we would drive home, my mother and I would park in the driveway and spend hours gossiping. She listened to the drama of fights I was having with my friends, coach me through my latest crushes and listen eagerly as I told her my dreams to travel the world.

I spent 10 years grieving her death.  It wasn’t an unproductive 10 years, but I never quite knew how to be fill the hole that she had left in my life. When I fell pregnant with my first child I secretly wished for a daughter. I didn’t tell anyone, but I felt like if the baby was a girl I would have that mother daughter connection back.

Carla and her Mum

Carla and her Mum

When she was born and I held my daughter on my chest night after night my last thought was of my mother. I sucked in every sleepless hour, grateful that my defining moment was no longer my mother’s death, finally trumped by the beautiful squirming baby that needed me. And I started to learn more about who my mother was. I felt like we had kicked off the next stage of our relationship. I finally understood the woman who had devoted her life to her children. I felt the need to protect and nurture this baby, without ever needing the recognition, just like she had. And I realised how upset she would have been that I had spent so many years holding onto my grief.

Don’t get me wrong I had my moments. When I saw my father go goo gah over my baby, I had the sudden rush of realisation that he could know my child for the next 40 years but my mother never would. Or hearing my friends talk about their mothers frantically cleaning or cooking for them in the new baby stress period that I would never know. Or when my child was old enough to ask who the woman was in the photo that took pride of place on the mantelpiece.

I finally understood that the ache for her would always be there but my life had finally got in the way of my grief. She had taught me everything I ever needed to know about how to be a mother. That it was unconditional and that death wouldn’t change that.

Do you relate to this?

Sam Lane chats about losing her mother below. For More of Sam On The Couch, click here.

  • Alex

    Beautifully articulated Carla. Losing your Mum and how it changes your world is hard to put into words…you told the fact perfectly through the experience of becoming a mother. I lost my Mum 10 days after my sons 1st birthday…I too had secret thoughts of the daughter I would have next. Though I didn’t wish for a girl, I more assumed that i would have one. That’s the way the universe should work, right? Give me my mother back as my daughter. Three years later and just 3 weeks ago I gave birth to my 3rd Son! No daughters, but I am a mother and it makes me so incredibly proud and happy. I get great comfort from knowing that the infinite and indestructable love I feel for my boys is exactly how my Mum felt about me.

  • showandtellonline1

    Alex, thanks so much for your beautiful words. It is so true that when you become a mother you truly understand how your own mum feels about you and how bloody lucky you are. We hope you’re doing well. I’m sure your gorgeous boys adore you as much as you adore your mum. Stace x

  • Bec Hope

    I lost my mum 6 months ago. I’m very thankful that my mum met both my kids (aged 4 & 1 when she passed) but it breaks my heart that they won’t remember her. She played such a massive part in my life & it’s hard to think my kids the other huge part of my life won’t remember her.
    I also totally understand your mother-daughter feeling. xxx

  • Carla McConnell

    You two look so alike! What a gorgeous pair you are. I used to think my daughter wouldn’t know my Mum but as she’s gotten older she’s asked so many questions that she’s actually become part of our dialogue. I think that your Mum is so part of you so she is part of your kids life whether they realise it or not. xxx

  • Vita

    God. I could have written this. My mother died when I was 13. I was desperate to have a girl but I didnt realise why until way after she was born. She was born on the same date that Mum passed away – about 20 years later. The first few month I suffered from PND but now its obvious that I was grieving all over again for my mother and my daughters nonna. Im so happy to have my new mother daughter relationship. But 30 years later, I still miss my mum everyday.

  • Carla McConnell

    Thanks for your message Vita. it doesn’t matter how many years it has been, it’s never the same without your mum. I’m sure she would be proud of you. xxx