Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Question.. version 2

How many kids do you have?
I am in a bar. It is noisy. I am out with a bunch of women, about 9. We are at a big table. The woman who is asking me is diagonally across the table from me, three people down. She is shouting. There are two conversations happening between she and I. I hesitate. I know the answer. It is very complicated.
I have two at home with me, I answer, and a little piece of me winces.
This reply is not a lie, but it is not the answer I would like to give. If we were face to face, eye to eye, and there were time, I would give her the real answer, the full answer.
I found this question mindless and easy when I was pregnant or had a newborn. They would say, "Is this your first" (or second). Then I could very simply and without explanation explain that I had had two babies before this one, Charlotte and Liam. But kids throws me.
Charlotte is not a kid. She never got that chance. She would be my kid. She should be my kid. She was my baby. She doesn't do the kid things with me.
I get confused by this. She is my kid. I want to have her drawings with her name scrawled on them all over my fridge (the loss of the name, that loss, of my very favorite ever since I was a little girl name Charlotte, that's something, too), the answering of the phone and it being for her, that won't happen. These daily things.
My child, yes. My baby, yes. My daughter, yes. But there is something about kid that connotes this daily grind, this carpooling to nursery school and making peanut butter sandwiches for them, and she misses that.
I don't deny her, not ever. I suppose not telling the woman at the bar would count as denying her to some. It's just that I have to do her justice. If I ever spoke to that woman again, and we got on the topic of kids, I would amend my answer, that is for sure. This is often what I will do, I will answer "two with me at home" (my standard, non-lie answer for tricky situations), and then if the conversation progresses, I hunt wildly for the opportunity to slip in that I actually did have another daughter before Liam. It could come from anywhere. The person could be saying, "I have a pink shirt", and I would say, "Oh, I had a pink shirt when I was pregnant with Charlotte, she is my first daughter who died at birth". I mean I really sometimes pull it out of thin air, because once I am actually talking to someone about my motherhood, I absolutely cannot look at them in the eye if I think they think I only have two kids. So I weave it in.
So yes, two kids with me at home, and three children, three babies, three loves. Always in my heart, together.
Happy Valentines Day, my sweet Charlotte. I wish I could send you a chocolate heart and a kiss wherever you are. xoxox


Rixa said...

One of my teachers (for a maternal-child health class I took as a grad student) would say, when asked, "I have two children with me and one in heaven."

By the way, I have a question I'd like to ask you via email...could you send me a note at stand.deliver at

Aimee said...

I hate that you know. I have started to say, "I have two at home with me." as well. I also put Sophie in the conversation if it keeps going. But why, why does that feel so wrong? Like I'm denying her? Obviously because the whole situation feels so wrong, so very very wrong. I HAVE THREE KIDS! And yesterday Chris threw in that we have three kids and one "angel peanut" which I thought I was funny!