That Didn’t End Well

We didn’t wind up going to my parents for the big Mother’s Day celebration. In fact, when I finally called my mom, as soon as she asked how are you doing, I lost it. Of course she understood, although it wouldn’t have mattered if she didn’t. While it was Mother’s Day, and of course I love her and wanted her to have a wonderful day with the family, this isn’t about her. It is about me. And something I’ve learned through all of this, is that it is OK — and often necessary — to put myself, and Double A first.

Throughout the day a few friends reached out and some family too (although truth be told, I was a bit hurt and saddened that I didn’t hear from more). They’re thinking of me. They feel our pain and sadness. They know what it’s like. But the truth of the matter is, is that they don’t. And that’s lucky for them. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not faulting them for reaching out. I appreciate it. I really do. It’s just that when you’ve had the mom card dangled in front of you and ripped away as much as I have, there’s little anyone can do or say that makes you feel ok with the fact that you’re not a mom, at least of kids who could actually say Mom at some point.

So what did we do? We went to Tar.get. We sat on the deck and read. We went for a walk. And one of those activities didn’t make me sad. The others involved encounters with the blissful looking families. And while I don’t know how much they struggled to get to those families, or what else they have going on in their lives, at that moment in time, they were for all intents and purposes, perfect, happy families. What got to me most was seeing the families with two or three kids…they could have multiple kids and we still can’t get to one. “Do you think they’ll give us one?” I asked Double A (kidding…).

Back in our protected household, I decided to make a nice dinner, grilling up Allen Bros. steaks (if you haven’t tried, you must), and after a tasty meal, we settled in to watch “We Bought a Zoo.” Seemed innocent enough. But nothing is innocent these days. If you haven’t seen it, Matt Damon’s character has recently lost his wife, quits his job, packs the kids up and yep, buys a zoo. He’s running from his old life and memories, only to find that he can’t hide from it. Those memories are with him. Those memories ARE him.

During the movie, Double A turned to me and said, sometimes I wonder if we should pack up and start fresh. I was thinking the same thing. Yet we both know that it wouldn’t solve anything. Tears trickled down my face throughout the movie (as they had sporadically throughout the day), but it wasn’t until the movie was over that the floodgates opened, before I even realized it. I lost it. I lost it big time, and there was no consoling me, in spite of Double A’s efforts.

The truth of the matter is, there are plenty of times that I want to just run away. But I know that I can’t. There are many reasons, but the biggest one is that what I’m running from is a part of me, and always will be in some form or another. And that just sucks. So, no, we aren’t going to go out and buy a zoo or probably do anything deemed that crazy (although it probably wouldn’t hurt to shake things up a bit). We will just continue to try to move forward. To get up in the morning, sometimes with big old puffy “no, I haven’t been crying all night” eyes and go to work. And continue to live. Continue to hope. No, this Mother’s Day didn’t end well, but it is done, and I don’t have to think about it anymore.

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Just Because You Ignore It…

It’s Mother’s Day. And it’s everywhere. On the TV. In the papers. Advertised every which way you look. Even if I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t. And for those of us who are technically mothers, but have never parented, it is an awful reminder of where we should be and what we long for, but aren’t. So how does one deal with this day?

The sun is shining and it looks beautiful out there. I’m trying to figure out what Double A and I are going to do with this day. You see, my entire family on my mom’s side (my parents, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) is getting together at my parents’ house. It’s an annual tradition, and usually a great time that’s the first outdoor event of the year. And while I’d love to see everyone, the thought of being with my family (or anyone for that matter) with Mother’s Day on everyone’s lips makes my insides tighten up. It may not be the focus of all conversations, but there’s no separating why we’re there. If nobody makes mention of it, then there’s a weird hush and sense of pity in the air. If someone does mention it, even with the best of intentions, it’s likely to send me into a downward spiral, ending with lots of tears. Yet, on the other hand, there’s guilt.

We didn’t go last year. It was less than a month after we lost our 4th child, and we were still in that I don’t know how we’re even functioning phase. Instead, Double A’s parents came in for the weekend, and we went to my parents for a quiet brunch, where it was just the six of us. I remember my mind was racing and wandering. So much so, that as I was pulling into our back parking lot, I misjudged the turn and wound up scraping Double A’s car along the gate (something I never do as I pride myself on being a good, albeit aggressive, driver). Cue tears. Lots of tears. And while I was upset that I had scraped the car (and embarrassed to have done so in front of my in-laws), those tears had nothing to do with the car.

Those tears, and the ones that have followed mourn what could have been, what should have been, but what isn’t. They represent hopes and dreams and the realization of fears we never even knew we had. They are magnified as one loss turned to two, which turned to three and then to four. And in some ways, they are a comfort as they are a release of the built up emotions and feelings that we’re sometimes pushed to believe we should keep inside and move on.

The truth is, I long for a Mother’s Day when I have a healthy baby by my side. And while I know it will be wonderful, I also know that the sting I feel now will always be there. That’s something those who haven’t experienced loss don’t understand: nothing will take the place of the baby, or in our case, babies who are not here with us.

All of this still doesn’t help me figure out how to deal with this day (other than to avoid Face.book at all costs). Do we go to my parents because everyone wants to see us and then wind up feeling sad? Or do we not go and feel guilty and bad for “letting them down” (even though I know they totally understand)? Is there a way to “celebrate” the mother’s around me, while not neglecting myself, when I’m so far from a celebratory mood? Or can I truly put this day out of my mind and trade it for just an ordinary beautiful spring Sunday? Suggestions are welcome.

In the meantime, to those who join me in this struggle today (and everyday), I send you the strength to make it through, and the hope that one day, we’ll be able to celebrate this day by not only honoring our babies who are not with us, but doing so with those who are.