Being a Mom without My Mom

17 years ago today I knew I would be a mom without my mom.

I have struggled with writing this since my mom took her last breath on September 14, 2002. I was 23 years old. I had completed college and thought I was grown. I thought I was ready to face the world. And I was. I was just ready to face it WITH her next to me.

However, after years of kicking cancer’s butt, my mom took the deal of a lifetime. She accepted her wings and took flight for her heavenly shopping spree. If you knew my mother, you knew that she was a SHOPPER. I fondly recall a sign in our kitchen growing up that said “Kitchen Closed, Gone Shopping.” We would often open and close the shopping centers. But that day she finished her course here on earth, and in essence I started mine. Until that moment I was walking in her shadows.

So here I am now with my own “Little Humans” to rear and guide, but she isn’t here to guide me. I find myself thumbing through my arsenal of memories and wondering how she would handle different situations. And often times, I am amazed at how graceful she was in all things. It seems that no matter how ill she was, she was never too ill to ensure we were provided for. Other days I chuckle because I open my mouth and she comes out. Those are honestly my proudest moments. For it is in those moments that I realize she lives in me.

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However, there are so many moments that I can’t help but realize what I’ve missed. My mom wasn’t here to assure me that those sharp kicks were really just the baby being normal. And in fact she wasn’t a little alien. I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to swap stories about “when I was a baby” or “when she was expecting.” This may all seem small to you, but for me that will always be something I wonder about. My mother-in-law was AMAZING on the day of delivery (keep in mind she had lost her dad that morning). She literally stayed in the room with my husband and me the entire time. I can’t forget about my sister cousins who took the low flight by car from Jonesboro, LA to Baton Rouge, LA in record time. Yet, I can’t help but wonder what that moment would have been like looking into the eyes of the gift of my womb and looking up at the eyes from the womb of my origin. There is just something about that rites of passage from motherhood to motherhood between a mother and daughter.

No, I’m not depressed. I miss my mother.

These pieces are often hard to write because you’re often viewed as depressed. The reality is that anyone with a healthy mother/daughter relationship desires these moments. There are even those that want to believe that you should be over it. Then that group that quickly tells you how they totally get it right after telling you how their mom ONLY stayed with them for one week after birth. Well, thanks for listening.

Embrace the time you do have with your mom.

Honestly, what I’ve wanted to do every single time someone tells me how they understand and dump these “my mom will only watch my child IF” stories on me is scream. That’s right, I want to scream as loudly as humanly possible. I want to ask them if they realize how insensitive they sound. I want to tell them that they could not possibly understand. I want to remind them that motherless daughters/mom would have LOVED that “just one week.” I want to tell them to embrace that one week in the summer that mom visits or lets the kids come over. Or that one afternoon that mom comes and takes the kids for ice cream. I want to tell them to let Grandmother spoil them a little longer. Let her give them a little more than they need. Let your mother be a grandmother and spoil her grandchildren. I would tell them to listen and hear their friends that are moms without moms.

every single second we spent together prepared me to be the mother I am today.

But more so if I could share my children with my mom, I would totally smile as they ate all of her treats. As they reminded me that her biscuits are better than mine. I would be ok with them having chips before dinner and skipping bedtime in summer. If my mom were still living I would totally embrace every single moment she would share with my children … and I would thank her for teaching me the ropes before she accepted her wings.

Dee Odom grew up in Jonesboro, LA. Dee earned a Bachelors from Grambling State University in Grambling, LA and a Masters from the rival school Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA. However, the rivalry only lasts for one Saturday in November, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Dee has a strong passion for public policy, social justice, and cooking. Therefore, it is no surprise that this self-proclaimed foodie met her husband, Chef Brandon while trying a new spot, and ultimately co-founded Odom’s Kitchen ( Together Dee and Brandon have two amazing children. One of the things she loves most about being in Louisiana is providing her children with access to three living great-grandparents. Additionally, Dee and Brandon enjoy entertaining friends and family through food and laughs.


  1. Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I pray that God will continue to bless you to share your memories with the world and your children.

  2. This was so beautiful. I love it. I can only imagine how much you miss her. But you’re absolutely right she lives within you. She watching your every move and I didn’t meet her but I’m sure she is so proud of you.

  3. I knew your mother. And as you stated she was wonderful. She married my cousin, your father, and all I could think of was spending the weekend with you guys when I was younger. When I got older and moved away, I would always make time to visit my big sis. Yes, your mom, Mae, was an exceptional women. With much love and fond memory I think of her. And with the time spent with her, you have become a wonderful little mom; one that she is surely proud of: she is watching, you know. LHK

  4. I am not a mother yet but hope to become one. My mom just recently passed away less then three weeks ago. I find myself going over all the things that she is going to miss amd the things that I am going to miss. She was only 48 years young and doed from a severe asthma attack. This artice helps tjank you.

    • Thank you, Amber. I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. I am happy this article helped you. I assure you that you will have hard days, but those memories will help you push through. The “firsts” are always hardest. . . the thing that I always say is I have gotten used to mom not being here, but not over it.

  5. So poignant. She has a beautiful smile and I can only imagine the fun you two had opening and closing shopping centers. Thanks for sharing.


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