I remember the first couple of weeks and months after saying goodbye to my precious Jonah at 30 weeks gestation due to a heart condition as extremely difficult and filled with so many ups and downs, I felt like a marionette doll living someone else’s life, because there’s no way that much sadness could be…
Dear Other Moms Waiting Outside of Class,
Isn’t it great that our children are old enough to take a 30 minute class by themselves now without a parent in the room? I know I was excited to have my daughter be able to take a fun dance class while I simultaneously have 30 minutes to rest!
And then it hits me. Now that I’m here waiting outside the room, reading my phone or a book, and occasionally glancing through the glass doors to see if my daughter is behaving, I realize how totally unprepared I am for this scenario.
You see, I’m a bereaved parent. I’ve dealt with questions like Is she your only child? Do you have other children? How many children do you have? I know how to respond to those questions after much practice over the past six years. There is often a little stab to my heart as I choose, for brevity’s sake, to answer with “Yes she is my only child at home,” when truly I’d like to answer, “I have three children, can I tell you about them?” But that’s not the reason I’m over here by myself avoiding social time.
I know you have noticed me over here week after week, I see you glancing every so often at me, sometimes giving me a questioning look.
As all of you other waiting moms begin your friendly chatter, I try to blend into the wall or look preoccupied. Do you wonder if I’m snobby or anti-social? Do you wonder if I’m just so busy that I need those 30 minutes to catch up on work?
Well let me explain. I don’t think I’m stuck-up or inherently anti-social, and although I have plenty of work to do, that’s not the reason I’ve isolated myself from you.
You adoring mothers are so beautifully focused on mothering. It’s wonderful, it really is. As you all begin to talk and connect, I know how the conversations will go. The talk is open and friendly about your children: their ages, how far they are spaced apart, whether you are done having kids and why, your breastfeeding experiences, and it soon evolves into telling the birth stories of each and every child.
That friendly mother-based conversation makes me incredibly uncomfortable. Not because I don’t have stories to tell, they are just not the stories you want to hear. I could tell you how my water broke unexpectedly at 23 weeks and my son was stillborn.
I could tell you how a year later the doctors tried to stop labor again with my daughter, but no matter what they tried she was born at 24 weeks. I could tell you how she fought to survive as hard as she could, yet her tiny body just wasn’t ready to be in this world separated from mine. I could tell you about my experience pumping and donating my milk after my daughter died, as I searched for any connection to my motherhood and womanhood that I could.
Or would you rather hear the stories about my daughter dancing in there? I could tell you about the miracle of her birth. Unfortunately, that’s not my story to tell. I could tell you how grateful we are to her birth mother for placing her for adoption.
However now that she is four years old, I walk a fine line in openly offering that information. Is it her choice to share that tidbit or mine? Does sharing that somehow become the centerpiece of her story? Does it separate her from her peers or make her more ‘special?’ And simply put, she’s not my adopted daughter, she is just my daughter.
Ok, maybe let’s try spacing. What if I told you I wanted my children two years apart?
You might be able to relate. Now let me tell you that we are going on five years apart and counting. Yes, we are ‘trying’ for another baby. We are adoptive parents-in-waiting, hoping to be chosen to parent another child who will be our daughter’s sibling. Can I tell you how frustrating it is, wanting your children to be raised close in age yet having no control over their spacing?
Do you see my conundrum? If I tell you these stories, then who becomes more uncomfortable me or you? What if I start crying as I tell you how badly we want another child, but we have to wait until someone picks us? Do these stories give us a connection, can you relate? Perhaps you can, perhaps you have unspoken stories you want to tell as well.
Maybe it’s just me; I’m ill-prepared for this.
I have so many stories to tell, I’m just not sure this 30 minute class will give me time to tell them. I may need a little more practice first.
So please don’t think that I am snobby or stand-offish. I’m simply trying to bide my time quietly and not fall apart as I listen to all your stories while we wait. And I promise, I’ll keep practicing.