Wednesday, June 11, 2008


This really is the crux of it, this dichotomy of who I am.

Last night I spent the evening out, attending the 6th grade graduation of the children I'd taught in kindergarten, first, and second grade. It was an important event for me to attend. I had given my hearts to these children, and they had trusted me with theirs. They had shared my joy through two pregnancies, and my sorrow of one. Their honesty, straightforwardness, and confusion was often my best comfort. I teared up at the ceremony, proud at how smart and strong they had become, these children who I had seen through so much. The evening consisted of an unbelievable potluck supper, the ceremony, cake, and then a contra dance. I enjoyed myself throughly.

When I emerged from the air-conditioned building, on the grounds of Amherst College, the heat engulfed me. The air was sweating, it was dark, and the smells were overpowering. Wet grass, pavement, cars driving by. The lights seeped into the heat of the night, illuminating the path I followed to find my car. I could hear my shoes on the pavement. One set of feet. My body was light, even within the oppressive air that tried to squeeze me from all sides. I breathed in the damp, warm night air. I was alone.
It was a beautiful thing. I was out there, and I was alone in this beautiful, hot night air. I felt like I could do anything I wanted to. I had to think only of myself. What if, perchance, I felt like stopping somewhere on the way home? I could do so. What if I wanted to just sit down on some steps, and feel the sweaty slate of the step soak through the back of my dress, and sit there and watch the night pass me by? I could do that. I felt free. I continued to my car, because this is what I wanted to do, and I was happy, and I smiled to myself.
As I drove away, I thought about how odd this is, that I can now relish my moments of freedom, when it was my greatest wish, and still is, to never be free. My children, in effect, chain me. Regardless of how much I love my chains, this is the truth of it: each move I make in life is made first for them, then for me. I don't eat first, I don't sleep first. I don't do anything for myself, unless their needs are met first. This is how it ought to be, and this is how I like it. When Charlotte died, I hated it that I could do the things that I wasn't "supposed" to be able to do with children. I didn't want to go to movies, or to restaurants, because that wasn't supposed to be possible with my new baby. I had made the conscious choice to put myself last, and I didn't want to be first in line anymore
When Liam was a baby, I didn't even want time to myself. It repulsed me, reminded me of when I had much too much time to myself, and I hated the idea of it. Four years later, I am here in a much more comfortable place, a place where I admit that yes, I am grieving, but I am also human: and sometimes, it feels nice to go first. To eat when I am hungry, to think for a few minutes without first thinking about somebody else. To be out in the hot, night air, and to walk slowly, and to not worry about whether I was moving too fast, or too slowly, or if there was going to be traffic on the way home.

And I am trying, very very hard, to also tell myself, that it is very very nice to have two such agreeable, self-entertaining, relatively independent children right now. That it is nice to be able to do things like garden, and paint things, and go running. I'm trying to think about how convenient it will be when I don't have to wash so many diapers, and how I am almost all done with sippy cups, and how I can get away with forgetting my bag when I go out, and this is supposed to make it a little easier for me to be okay with the fact that there is no new baby on the horizon, and it's supposed to make me a little more patient, and a little less panicked, and try to make me hold my chin up like a normal person, not like a grieving, slightly manic babylost mama who is pretty sure she is broken and her two living children are some sort of fluke.


Sara said...

When I started reading this, I thought, "Yes, I know that feeling." I know what it is for free time to be a slap in the face reminder of what you should be doing. I recognize that feeling in the morning when I don't get out of bed right away and when I go to yoga or for a walk with no stroller to push.

And then I got to the end. You are so gracious and kind to encourage and be happy for me. I think you would tell me that I need a baby and you only want one. But still, thank you.

CLC said...

I get the I shouldn't be doing this feeling. Everything I do since my baby died is tainted with the I shouldn't be doing this but I should be at home with my 6 month old. Crap. That is so depressing to even type.

I like to read your blog and get the perspective of someone who has been on this journey longer. Thank you for sharing.

Jana said...

I just found your blog via glowinthewoods, and I look forward to reading your archives further. But I read you first in Mothering magazine, just weeks after my daughter, Charlotte Grace, was born. The article caught my eye for obvious reasons, and I was swept up. You wrote beautifully there (and do here, too) about something so difficult and painful. Thank you.

Heather said...


Your writing is beautiful, and as a babylost mama with too much time on her hands I really appreciate your sentiments. I've always loved my independence and my "me" time, but now I hate it. It taunts me every time I plan my day.

Thanks so much for your comment on my blog- it breaks my heart to read of other mommies losing Charlottes too.