I was clicking through other folks' blog rolls last night, and came upon the blog of a woman who lost her baby five months before we lost Hannah. Being morbid and curious, and nothing but sympathetic, I hit her archives and started reading.
The pain. Oh, the raw pain. And the confusion. And the unanswered questions. It took me back to those first months after we lost Hannah, and I really came to understand how far I have come on this journey.
I have not been back through to read my archives--it's too painful, and not something I feel the need to relive at this point in my life--but I can remember those lessons I had "learned" from losing her.
Life is short. We're not guaranteed tomorrow, only this moment. Enjoy your babies, even those things they do which drive you bonkers for those things will be that which you miss most when they are gone. They're only little once, don't sweat it if they wear crazy outfits in public. Don't flip out over the small things, embrace them. Don't promise to do something and then not do it. Snuggle and cuddle, LOTS.
I could certainly go on and on, for those were things I was DETERMINED to remember and heed. And yet, I haven't. Not really. Time has passed. Those lessons have faded somewhat.
Sure, I'm good about embracing the small moments that occur that at one time would have had me flipping out (running through the yard sprinklers, anyone?), and I'm fine with the outfits the girls wear (although, we will be having a bit of a rein-in once school begins), but I seem to have forgotten about the others.
I don't snuggle Lily nearly often enough (and Ellie, quite frankly, has NO desire to be held and cuddled--at all. She has no time for it, thankyouverymuch), and instead of enjoying the little things she does (the whistling...gah, the tuneless whistling!) I become annoyed. Why? It's such a harmless thing, really. She is proud that she can do it, so does so. With quite a bit of frequency.
I fuss. I've been trying not to yell or raise my voice, but it happens sometimes (I'm so ashamed). I'm impatient. I get frustrated with the distractedness and lollygagging and piddling. Her room and bathroom and the fact she doesn't even see the messes she makes irks me no end.
I cringe upon reflection when I realize just how unreasonable I may have been. Why do I say "no" so often? Does it hurt me to say "yes"? It's as if it's become a habit to say "no". Why? Why why why? Have I not learned? Oh dear lord, what if something happened to Lil? How would I feel then?!?
For now, I know how it feels to lose a child. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm certain each loss is different and excruciating in it's own right, but losing a child is still losing a child. I could never have imagined how it would be. I thought I could. I thought I had. But really, I hadn't. And then, it happened, and I knew. I learned. Drat it all, I LEARNED from that. And yet, it seems I didn't. Not really. I'm doing some of the same stupid things I did with Hannah.
I suppose it's human nature to be self-critical. Parenting is hard (talk about your understatements!) and there is a fine and delicate balance between being "mommy" and being YOU. Where does "mommy" end and "you" begin? Motherhood is a life of sacrifice, and I knew that before Hannah was born. I remember sitting in my living room right after she was born, sobbing in the way that only terrific hormonal upheaval and new motherhood at a young (24) age could produce, because I knew in that moment, my life as I had known it was over. It would never be the same again. Period.
And, it hasn't. I've given up much as a mom--the last piece of chocolate, hours and hours of sleep, peeing in privacy, stopping for a break on the road when a child is sleeping, movies, free reading time, just to name a few--but I don't mind. I don't, truly. However, human nature being what it is, I'm also selfish, and every once in a while, I crave that moment to go potty (see, like I said, NEVER be the same--how many adults sans children call it "potty"??) without an audience or someone beating down the door and screaming because they can't get to me. My selfish dream is simple, really. I dream of an overnight stay in a hotel room--all. by. myself. Good grief, what I could do with that time...:wistful sigh:
I suppose the selfish side of me, and the side of me that feels it is my responsibility and duty as a mother to raise confident, happy, well-adjusted, contributing members of society fight with that side of me that just longs to be my girls' friend and to say "yes" to their desires. I want them to like me, I do. I don't know that I'm the most "likeable" person around some days, just ask B and Lil.
But, at the same time, I also know that by saying "yes" to everything would lead to big fat disasters. It's that balance thing again.
I need to reassess. Where am I now? How important is it to me that I embrace my Lil and all her quirks? How important is it to me that I find other ways to get through to her and find patience to deal with her extreme differences from me (mess making and piddling, anyone)? How much would it hurt for me to be more deliberate about saying "yes" when it wouldn't hurt to do so, instead of the "nos" that always seem to pour forth?
Reading through that woman's archives brought home to me how important it is for me to remember those lessons I learned from Hannah and her death. In many ways, I'm doing well, but in others, I'm still a work in progress.
1. Listening to Lil play in the playroom. She is SO good about entertaining herself.
2. The kitties are such kitties. I was trying to type this post and Fred plunked himself down right on my keyboard. When moved aside, I received quite the disdainful look and he then plunked himself down on my hand. Ahh, the joys of being owned by a cat. ;o)
3. The Bean is feeling SO much better--although the nose is still rather runny.
4. Leftovers for lunch.
5. BEAUTIFUL weather for much of the day. Highs in the low-80's works for me. There was even a coolish breeze. :o) It's supposed to be nice tomorrow as well. Too bad the weekend is looking bleak...Hurricane Irene is on the move.
6. Audiobooks. Ah, the thing that allows me to immerse myself in literature even when I'm cleaning.
7. My funny hubby who makes me laugh because he knows just which buttons to push.
Reflecting on loss and lessons learned.