Friday, March 28, 2014

The Baby of the Family?

Grief is a tricky business. Just when you think you've become familiar with it's cunning ways it sneaks up on you and does something unexpected. 

I'm learning that my grief process is like that old onion adage and there are layers.  It's no wonder I can't eat onions anymore. I hit a new layer in the last day or two.  One I dislike.  It might be the impending birthday... still far enough away that it feels distant and yet close enough to threaten me with another year. Or the reality of how profoundly my life has changed.  The proverbial ticking clock smacked me in the face with the reality that Eowyn is likely my last child. I'm well aware that I do not have fortune telling abilities nor do I believe anyone who says they do.  But I'm staring 34 in the face.  I had my last child at 29.  I'm in the middle of a Master's Degree and single. She will likely remain my baby forever.  That's not how I thought things were going to be.

I stared at my body in disbelief in the shower almost as if it were a traitor to me.  Unbelieving that it won't ever be pregnant again. Thinking of all the experiences I didn't treasure with my last baby that I won't ever have again.  It had betrayed me I felt.  Why didn't someone let me know to enjoy it more? How is that chapter really closed?  And hope for it to not be closed isn't something I want.  I have no desire to 'fix' this.  Eowyn will really never have a sister.  Something in me thought she would one day.  Three will be the number of children I have on this earth.  I have no desire or energy to orchestrate the possibility of another child for my family.  It's less painful to grieve and mourn.  

I've made peace to the best of my ability with this stage of my life.  I am single.  I am focused.  I work.  I go to school. I make a future and a present for my family. I workout for me time and that is my life. Sounds empty and perfunctory but it's not always. There are rewards in the laughter and peace I see in my children's demeanor.  I have more free time then I ever have had since becoming a mother.  Which is still a dismally small amount.  

But that also means grieving what cannot be. 

This is a concept so foreign to men the notion of ticking clocks and closing chapters.  Maybe it's because their bodies don't keep track of time like ours do.  We're reminded month after month that time is passing.  Sometimes that can feel like a gift other times it feels like a time bomb that will eventually go off but we're not sure when.  Maybe it's because for men their identity lies elsewhere. Or maybe it's because for them children aren't a time bound activity.  But whatever it is it is impossible for women to ignore.  

There will one day be fulfillment in my life.  I will eventually find joy again.  But as I stare at my four year old with the vocabulary of a ten year old I think of all the 'lasts' I didn't cherish enough.  The last diaper change, the last nursing session, the last bottle feeding, the last time I heard a baby of mine cry, the laughter of a one year old - a melody like nothing else... 

I'm tempted to wrap this up with some happy baby pictures of my kids or some sweet anecdote I do remember. But grief has taught me that when you shortcut it she becomes bitchy, it's better to let her be and feel.  

So excuse me if I take a million pictures of my Nina.  Excuse me if I spoil her more than a little.  Excuse me if I weep at the sight of pregnant women and newborns.  There are other things in this life for me but that one is gone and today that  hurts.  It'll probably hurt tomorrow too.  And hope is not something I want to be given, I'd rather make peace with it. 

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