I’m just sitting here on the couch crying and I don’t know exactly why.
I think I’m just so tired.
M doesn’t really sleep at night. He wakes up every hour or two, and it’s wearing me down. But I don’t want to complain about his sleep because he’s alive and other babies – including one of my own – are dead. When I mention his sleep to other parents at kindergarten drop-off and they commiserate, I always think: ‘but you don’t really understand.’ But you know what? They do understand sleep deprivation. They just don’t understand grief and parenting with grief and that wall is always, always between us – even if they can’t see it.
I’m just so tired.
And then there is the whole business of parenting a five year old in the community I live in. It seems like we are supposed to be constantly enriching our children. What activities have you got them signed up for after school? What are you going to do about school next year? Are you looking for something better? French Immersion? Private school? Little so-and-so has started violin and oh, you’re doing gymnastics at the community centre? Hmmm, we’ve got so-and-so at the gymnastics academy in such-and-such neighbourhood…etc. etc. etc. My usual self would think, ‘hold up: she’s five! She needs to play and run and be loved like crazy. It’s okay if she’s not enrolled in Suzuki-method music lessons and it’s okay that she goes to public school and it’s okay that she just went to a regular old daycare with teachers who loved her instead of Montessori and it’s okay to be okay with the decisions I’ve made, because I’m her mother and I love her and I’m doing my best.’
But my tired self worries: are we failing her? Are we holding her back? Are we not trying hard enough? Am I doing everything wrong?
And then I also want to yell and scream at the unfairness of raising a child through the hell of all this grief. The other day I was busy comparing myself unfavourably to another mother who has always done all these neat ‘enrichment’-type activities with her kids, berating myself for not having been more creative,more educative with E, and then I realized that this mom never had to birth a dead baby, go to a funeral home to arrange cremation, pick up her dead baby’s ashes, watch her living child struggle to understand death and grief, try to figure out how you celebrate the second birthday of a baby who died two days before she was born.
It’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to E, whose mother has spent so much time just trying to survive, just trying to keep going.
I know that some of what we’ve been through will serve E well. I know that she will understand things that some other kids won’t understand yet for years, and I hope that what she has experienced will help her be more empathic and understanding. I guess that’s ‘enrichment’ too, isn’t it?
I think I am just exhausted from spending time with the ‘normals.’ Since E has started kindergarten, I have rejoined the community of parents in my neighbourhood. I talk every day with other parents, most of whom have no idea that we are grieving our middle child; those of whom do know, certainly don’t understand what that means. It is exhausting. It is hard, hard work. I’m not sure why I do it to myself, sometimes, except that I also know I do it for E, who wants to walk to school with friends, and play on the playground at the end of the day, invite friends over and be invited.
Right now I want to pull the curtains around my little family, block everyone else out. I want days like we had last weekend, where we stay in our pyjamas, make pancakes for breakfast, go for long forest walks, build fairy houses, and talk to no one but ourselves.
Because she is here on those days, too.
She is so much easier to find on those days.