I did not have children, as such. I did adopt a teenager when I was 49 years old. But, even at her age, my role as mother turned my world inside out. She was my focus for everything. And, I am in a similar situation now, but from a grandmother’s perspective. Six years ago, my daughter and her children, then three and one, moved in with me. That was my first close experience raising small children. I have been co-parenting with her since 2010, and my grandchildren have been my world. Nearly everything I do revolves around or involves them. That is about to change since my daughter and grandchildren are moving out at the end of this month. At first, that news devastated me, but I have come to terms with it, and am looking forward to having control of my life again.
Same as you, growing up without a mother had some advantages. Definitely more independence, but a great deal more responsibility. I became the “lady of the house” at age eleven when my older sister got married. No after-school activities for me. Needed to get home to cook dinner. Did all the grocery shopping starting at age nine because my older sister, who was still at home at the time, did not want her teenage friends to see her in the grocery store. I was certainly self-sufficient when I left home.
I always felt so different than other children. Older, wiser, less loved. My father was NOT like the TV dads of that time, if any fathers were. But, truly, my losses did not come into my awareness until I was in my forties. It was then that realize what a huge influence the death of my mother had on me. Having been only three months old when she passed, I thought her death had little effect on me. Boy, was I wrong!
On the topic of old family TV shows: my husband is from Argentina. He immigrated in 1969, expecting to find all American families to be like the TV shows he watched. He thought American men wore suits to eat dinner, thought all mothers stayed home, etc. Not only did he quickly discover that the TV image was wrong, but his first apartment was in Newark, NJ so he discovered the well-hidden negative side of American society. He laughs and says he is still looking for a family that comes even close to the TV portrayals of Americans in the 50’s and 60's!