Monday, December 1, 2008

What I can't relate to

There is another thing that makes me turn red on the inside, while I smile on the outside. Somehow I have never been able to get past carrying on as if an interested participant in the conversation, but I can feel hot liquid oozing out of my ears and from beneath my fingernails. Ants crawl up and down my spine and I want to jump up and run out, out, out... And this is what it is. I'll put six statements in chronological order, and you will understand immediately.

2003: Sometimes nursing can just be really difficult.

2004: They can really just get to be such a handful once they're walking!

2005: It's just such a treat to finally know what he has to say, to see his personality emerge.

2006: Oh, my god. Having a two-three year old presents a whole new set of challenges. I never know what to do!

2007: Can you believe it? She can draw real people! Look!

2008: I am so proud. He can read! It is just so exciting when they figure out the code.

So you get this, eh? These are the people who have the children Charlotte's age, who are talking to me not as the mother of Charlotte, but as the mother of Liam, who is a year younger than their son or daughter. This is a mother telling me, look out! Guess what's coming!

But you know what I hear, don't you?

This is what you are missing right now, this is what you should know, but you don't. You have no idea.

They never mean harm, never ever, never ever. Some go on more than others, but they never even know that I am melting inside, seething with the sadness for what I am missing. I have never said a thing.

9 comments:

wandering mom said...

You deserve to say something. You deserve to defend the part of yourself that is aching inside when a thoughtless or naive person lands you in this place. My ability to speak up in this way is anemic at best, but hearing you describe this makes me angry for you. Charlotte deserves recognition and respect from others, and so do you. Thank you for sharing. My thoughts to you, and all of your children.

Hope's Mama said...

Carol you are a shining light for me up ahead on this road, but when I look at you I also realise just how hard it still must be for you, even after five years. And that it is going to continue to be hard. And I realise what a long way I have to go. Charlotte might not be here reading for you today, but she's reading to my Hope up in heaven. Reading her sweet bed time stories xoxo

Aimee said...

I totally understand you not wanting to say anything though. Think of the response...you say, "You know, my first baby died at birth 5 years ago and it hurts to hear you talk about the things I really should be able to relate to but can't right now because my 5-year-old is not alive." That mother would look at you like you were nuts...she would give you that look of "Holy cow! Why would this crazy woman bring up some dead baby from over 5 years ago??" then she would quickly change the subject or walk away. I'm curious, does anyone think that these naive people who don't ask to be educated about tact and who truly don't know our point of view...do any of them really get anything out of being told about reality? Sorry if this sounds bitter, but I'm wondering. Like Carol, I know, deep down, these people don't mean any harm. Like the ones who warn me about my pending "third" baby who is really my fourth. "Oh you don't know what you are getting into by adding a third!" they'll say. "You are going to have your hands full!" (Um, yeah! That is what I wanted two years ago--full hands. But she died...thanks!) Again, it is such a fine balance between getting your feelings out and recognizing that most people don't mean anything by it. And that hurts too...but is saying something always a good thing if you have to see these people over and over? I just don't know the answer!

Sorry, Carol, I'm rambling on your blog. I'll stop now! Obviously I love your posts!

Cara said...

There is definately this chasm between what they say and what we hear. It feels like a new human dimension has been opened when our child died, a portal, and we are now able to hear and FEEL both lauguages spoken and their interpretations.

Shannon said...

I agree with Aimee, I can't bring myself to mention Isabella or Sean, even in front of some family members because I would get that look. It's the "you're crazy" look. The "why are you still upset about this" look. The "buck up and get over it" look. People talk about their babies in front of me, I want to run screaming from the room.

Meg said...

As a mother who has never lost any children, I think I can add a little enlightenment. Could it be possible that these people saying these insensitive things don't know that you lost a child? If they don't know, then I guess it's innocent. If they do know, maybe they just don't know what to say. A lot of the time we just don't know what to say. Personally, with my friend who lost her baby right after birth, I don't know if it'll make her more sad if I mention him or if I don't.

The fact that it hurts you so much, Carol, is so sad. I'm so sorry you are hurt by these comments. And, you are right. I am positive these people don't MEAN any harm. It doesn't mean they're not causing any, though. I'm sure there's a way to say something that can get across that it's painful for you to hear about that stuff.
Maybe you could say, "wow, that's cool. I bet my Charlotte would be doing that, too." That would introduce her to them if they didn't already know about her and if they did, it might put them in their place a little.

Charlotte's Mama said...

When I say these people don't mean anything by it, I really mean it. I mean, they are simply TALKING about their children to me. So basically, what it comes down to is; if I choose to engage in a conversation with somebody who has a child in Charlotte's age bracket, this happens much of the time. So I could say to Aimee, to be friendly, so what's Erin up to at school? And really, it's hard to hear the answer, because Charlotte is dead and doesn't go to school, and even if she tells me the bare basics, being totally sensitive, I still am aware my daughter isn't doing it. And there is a part of me that doesn't even want to KNOW what she is doing. Because it makes me sad.

BG said...

Do you think they were/are simply trying to connect with the Liam part of you - without trying to hurt or ignore the Charlotte part of you?

That can be a terribly high bar to put on others not in your situation to connect with you without hurting you. What would you rather them say? Nothing at all?

Charlotte's Mama said...

This is the thing-- I don't expect them to. It would be madness. My point is, it's a pain I must bear, but it still hurts. And because I never flinch on the outside, nobody would ever know.