I’m up past midnight, unable to sleep and satisfying my munchies with nachos. I need to be sleeping. NEED. TO. BE. Mark’s up at 4:15 to get himself ready to be at the airport by 6am and that means that when the littlest of my two girlies wakes at 5am there’ll be no Daddy to get her back to sleep. There won’t even be the option of going back to sleep for a wee bit after he’s up and ready to face the world. NO. Not even a little.
There’s something just so very SUCK about having a partner who travels for work. The money is great and we do need it, but it is draining to know there will be no evening relief, no one to spell you when it gets hard and absolutely no sleeping in. GAH! I seriously don’t know how single parents pull it off.
In some ways though, I am often surprised at how much better I do on my own. With him home I have all these expectations and they are often so very ridiculous. When it’s just me, I have to muddle through and so I do. I just do. I imagine that is how single parents pull it off; they just do because they must.
I also imagine it’s how you survive the loss of a child. I think you likely wake up each day and reach for the empty part of your heart, take a deep breath and sit up carefully so as not to jar anything. I imagine you make your way into the bathroom and avoid looking in the mirror. I imagine you stand under a hot stream of water and feel the prickling sensation of too hot on your back, bending your head under it and balling up your fists in your eyes. I imagine you just keep moving, one foot after another. I imagine that sometimes everything becomes still and you let yourself fall apart, not caring who can see you or who hears. I imagine so much of what this must be like. But I really don’t have a clue.
I have avoided detailing the death of my friend’s son because it’s not mine to share. Instead I’ve been trying to just work through how this affects me, when the tragedy isn’t mine. I’ve been cringing at the way people tell me I’m a good friend or that my heart is big when I really don’t want to fucking hear it. It’s NOT mine. It’s not my pain that anyone needs to care about, it doesn’t belong to me. I think we all take it on to a certain extent, especially those of us who have children in our lives (Auntie’s included). But I haven’t done anything but look at how this affects ME. There is nothing extraordinary I can offer and quite frankly, I find it distasteful to expect that anyone can change the heart of a mother who suffers such a loss. Instead, she must just move through it; one foot in front of another. And those around her must not act like inconsiderate assholes.
I am so tired and so melancholy and so full of anger at times, I don’t quite know how to be myself. And this is good. This is how his death changed my life, despite the fact that I never got to see him alive. Despite the fact that his mother and I have been out of touch for so long and have just recently started to run into each other again, reclaiming the title “friend” if only tenuously. But dammit, a child’s death should change everyone’s life, even if they never knew him. But it belongs only to those who held him in his last hours and stared lovingly in his face and allowed their tears to fall into his hair. It belongs to those people who must forever reach for the empty spot in their heart where their son resides.
But what do I know? I’ve never been there and hopefully never will. And I am so very tired and yet so very awake. I am muddled and confused and thinking of what this week will mean to me, while I struggle through caring for my children alone. I should simply be grateful I have children to struggle with. I should instead rejoice in every moment I have with them. Anything else seems so disrespectful. And so I am racked with guilt when I yell in exasperation or tell my nursling to just wait a minute while I finish this insignificant thing.
How do we do this? How do we recognize that our children are these stunning gifts that we may loose and still find ways to acknowledge our frustration with the burden of rearing them? Because while it may be a welcome burden, there are times where it is just that: a frustrating annoyance that you simply cannot tolerate for another minute and so you snap at them or tell them to just leave you alone for a freaking minute so you can pee or you sit them in front of the TV so you can sneak away to eat chocolate and cry. How do we balance this wicked dichotomy of momentary selfishness and utter terror with the reality that they could be snatched away from us without warning? How can we be so annoyed at one moment and so grateful to see their healthy selves at another? How do we survive through such raw emotionality and such schizophrenic realities?
Tomorrow (which is technically today) I will wake up and nurse my babe. I will get dressed, break up fights, feed children and (hopefully) myself. I will gather snacks and get everyone dressed. (I will obsess over what you all have to say about this horribly self indulgent post and consider taking it down.) I will tuck the required number of diapers into a bag, make sure we have water, check my email and get ready to go. I will take the kids out for the day, come back for naps, make dinner, break up more fights and get frustrated that my husband will not be home. I will muddle through bedtime, getting both kids settled and then going back to check on them when needed. I will watch TV and try to remember not to stay up too late. I will crawl into bed and read for a bit with my cat curled at my feet and the dog snoring nearby. I will do all of these things with my sanity firmly in check. I will do all of them because it’s what you do. And I will try to be grateful for all that I have. I will be aware that my life is so incredibly rich and full and that I am the luckiest woman who ever lived. I will even laugh at the drama and emotion I put myself through the night before, when I should have been asleep.
If you’ve managed to stick with me this far (and I seriously wonder WHY you would at this point) let me just say one more thing: THIS, my friends. THIS is why you should not blog when you should be sleeping. Too much of the raw stuff surfaces. Too many fears come creeping out at night with rain tapping softly on the window panes and the world so very quiet around you. This is when you wonder if you really do have your shit together. This is when you wonder how anyone survives parenthood with their sanity in tact. And yet, if we focused on the all possibilities for devastation all of the time (instead of just in the middle of the night) we would likely go insane. I get through these fears by looking at my parents and step-parents. They reared a whole mess of children without losing a single one. It can be done. I can get my girls to adulthood without suffering their loss, despite my fears to the contrary. And I really want to get them there with joy and trust, rather than terror and manic protection. But it’s out of my hands, just like the death of her tiny son. I can only do my best. That’s all any of us can do, really.