When we picture our early parenting years, few of us imagine that time without the presence of our parents. For some moms, the loss of a loved one means navigating our way through parenthood without a mother's guidance.

I never imagined that I would be raising my daughter without my own mother in my life. When I first pictured myself as a mother, I had visions of my mom attending dance recitals and school plays, and helping my daughter learn to read or to bake. But, my mother passed away when I was in my very early 20s — before I had thought of children, and long before I could truly comprehend how the enormity of her loss would ripple throughout my life.

With parenthood came the realization that the loss of my mother was not just my own, but my daughter's loss as well. I see it not just in the absence of zoo trips and movie nights with her grandma, but in the untold stories from my past. I wish for both of us that my mother was here to fill in the missing pieces and fragmented memories of my childhood. Someone to look at the way my daughter laughs or smiles and tell me she is just like me. I wish she could tell my daughter the stories of my childhood — stories that I'll never know because I was too young to remember.

Most of us dread the day we finally say something that sounds just likewhat mom would say, but for me those moments bring joy, and serve as a reminder that a part of her is always with us.

Amy Vowles daughter

It comforts me to know that even though early memories of my own childhood are gone along with my mother, my mother is not truly gone from us. I see my mom reflected in the way that I parent my daughter. Most of us dread the day we finally say something that sounds just like what mom would say, but for me those moments bring joy, and serve as a reminder that a part of her is always with us.

Having a child helps me feel closer to my mom, and brings her memory back into my life in a more tangible way. When I teach my daughter how to crack an egg on the cookie bowl, or how to cook the perfect grilled cheese, my mother is suddenly there, just as she was there teaching me those same things. As I grow in my role as a parent, it revives that connection I once shared with my mother and brings a part of her back into our lives every day.

My mom did what every good parent seeks to do: she gave me the tools to make my way in this world without her.

Nothing will ever replace the loss of my mother. I can't bring her back and my daughter will never know a life where she has two grandmothers. There is nothing I can do to minimize the loss and replace the pain that I have in my heart, but I know that I am strong enough to raise my daughter without my mother. In the end, my mom did what every good parent seeks to do: she gave me the tools to make my way in this world without her. I am who I am because of her, and I will use every part of her that is within me to raise my daughter.

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Topics: grandparents