I am a good mother. Not perfect by any means (though for too long I apologetically strived to be), but most days, I feel like a great mother.
It was 1:57 in the afternoon on a snowy, sunny Sunday when I became a mommy. At that moment, three years ago, instincts kicked in and caring for my babe felt natural.
Despite a brief encounter with postpartum anxiety (which is SO real, you guys), my body, my heart, and my brain came together to help me perform all of my new mommy duties.
I was an extremely happy, just very tired, new mom. Even breastfeeding, which I know from honest stories from dear friends, is not always easy…was. It just was for us.
Everything was. Our bond, our routine, and how we went from a family of two to a family of three as if a family of three is all we ever were. Natural.
But these days, I do not feel like a good mother. And I definitely don’t feel like a great mother.
The difference is that I don’t know how to be a bereaved mother. It’s not the same. It’s not natural.
In fact, the cold hard truth is there is NOTHING natural about standing in the cemetery, staring at a tiny plastic nameplate with your baby’s name printed on it.
The same name you imagined writing on baby books, doctor visit forms, kindergarten enrollment papers, and a thousand other things over the course of a lifetime.
I am awkward. Unlike being a mom to your sister, I am clueless. I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to be THIS kind of mother.
I don’t know how to do it this way.
So I stand there at your grave. I crouch down, but I don’t talk. No words come. They don’t come because they don’t exist.
There are no words for this. No words for the love I have for you and no words for this loss.
My brain is too exhausted to make sense of this, and the loss is so great my heart has trouble even feeling it. The whole thing is unfathomable. My body just goes through the motions.
I visit you and stand there and try to do something motherly, something loving, something to show you what you mean to me… but it doesn’t feel natural.
It doesn’t feel RIGHT to do it this way.
Eventually, begging God to tell you how much I love you, I get helplessly back in my car. Why can’t I feel more??
Why can’t I talk to you just like I would if we were cozied up in the rocker at home?
Why can’t my heart feel joy for you, being in the place we all long to go?
I get home and your sister runs to greet me at the door. And without needing to think about what I’m doing or why or how – I’m a great mother again. It’s natural.
But being a bereaved mother is not.
I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to BE. I don’t know how to be a mother to a little boy I can’t hold and feed and read to.
And I’m sorry.
I have a lifetime to live without you.
A lifetime to carry you with me.
And a lifetime to learn how to do it better.