Parenting After Loss
Guest Post by Anja
I lost my cool with my toddler this evening. She doesn’t want to sleep. I do, it’s nearly my bed time too! It’s a properly normal toddler scenario. And after putting her back to bed half a dozen times, the seventh proved too much, and ‘cross Mummy’ came out to resolve the situation.
Then, as she closed her eyes and nodded off to sleep, guilt laden Mummy emerged. My toddler is my rainbow child. So I sit in her room and sob (silently because and eighth round of “bed time” really will send me over the edge).
Tears pour out my eyes and snot streams out my nose. While I sit there I wonder, not for the first time, if my first two children died because God thought that I would make a useless parent. I feel pretty low right now. Did God foresee that I would feel claustrophobic in my mothering role? Think that I should be childless because nobody that delicate needs to be subject to cross Mummy? And if all that is true, then why did my daughter survive?
I feel bad for her. She didn’t ask for a mum who gets tired and grumpy. Who needs space. Who wants her toddler to get to sleep.
Somewhere in a dark corner of my mind I know that toddler troubles are just a normal part of the progression from babyhood to childhood. Every parent gets frustrated and every child needs to push boundaries. Thats how our children become adults who ask questions and make good decisions. As my mother is all too fond of reminding me, I was pretty keen on pushing boundaries and questioning everything.
Equally normal is the reaction of a parent, telling a child that enough is enough. As parents we fail our children when we don’t give them good boundaries.
I’m different though. The baby-loss mums that I talk to are different as well. Somehow we wonder if there wasn’t some divine reason for intervening, taking our children away so that we couldn’t harm them. We wonder if we are really that bad, our inner conflict is that we suspect that we are, but wish that we weren’t.
We aren’t helped at all by well meaning but clueless comments: “There’s always a reason” or “God knew what He was doing”, “Your baby is safe now” and “In heaven there’s no pain or harm”. Because we secretly suspect that these might relate to us, to our parenting.
You know what. We are good parents. We love our children and set appropriate limits. We know that they are precious and that nobody lives forever. We want them to be sure that while they are in our care they know that they are loved. We would give anything to say that to the children that have gone before us. Parenting is never easy, losing a child only adds new levels of complexity. It can destroy confidence in every area of life, let alone in your actual parenting.
I don’t know why God allowed my two babies to go ahead. I do know that there are some days I’d never be Mother of the Year. But I also know that my journey through loss wasn’t because God thought that I would make a bad mother. And I do know that the days that my parenting is at its lowest is when God gives me the strength and skills to get to the end, and sometimes He even gives us an early night!