It feels like for so long I have been stuck in a big fat parenting funk. It’s difficult to explain but the enormity of the changes in our life recently have just left me quite literally trying and struggling to keep my head above water. Parenting itself is difficult at the best of times but parenting after loss is and has been really hard for me. I think it’s important to be honest and upfront and I don’t want to allude you to the fact that sometimes I struggle, I think we all do. Social media can play a huge part in providing a smoke screen for real life, whilst often we share the hard days generally we show little snippets of the nice things we do which are only a snapshot of maybe one hour or less of our days.
I think as a parent there is huge pressure to conform and ‘perform’ if you will, when for most of us each day we are literally just trying to survive. I know that all stages pass and I am continually reminding myself of this, but bloody hell its hard. I haven’t published a huge amount on this in the past as I am always very conscious of who is reading and following my blog. Aside from my wonderfully supportive friends and family who I know avidly read and always comment and touch base with me there is another branch of people, those who like me, lost their babies.
I am always conscious that by truly admitting how I feel about motherhood and parenting it could make me sound ungrateful and could upset those who have experienced the loss of their baby. But, I have decided that my blog needs to move with my family and our journey and so whatever stage someone may pick us up at it is important to be honest, because, at some point they may find themselves here and need to know these feelings are ok. And of course as I have done myself before if you feel you can’t read or follow this stage it’s completely ok to unfollow or stop reading.
So my point, I think I have found myself wondering if my feelings of frustration and sadness are normal – I know what this stage of parenting is like having been through it with Archie and I know the struggles and experiences are normal but what I find myself constantly questioning is if I should feel like this about Vinnie after loosing Betty? Should parenting a child after loosing one feel better because you are so relieved to have the chance to do the one thing that felt like it was never going to be possible to do again??
I know the answer, even writing it now I know how absurd I sound, of course not. If anything parenting after loss is 100 times harder as you struggle to differentiate between grief, sleep deprivation, exhaustion and the everyday trials and tribulations of family life. This week as Vinnie turns 18 Months I finally feel like we are beginning to turn a corner. With a mixture of our hectic daily lives, a 7 year olds demanding school and after school club schedule and a boob obsessed sleep hating toddler I have rarely felt like I throughly enjoy many of the things we do.
Now please don’t think I am sat here in a depressed, sloth-like state – not at all, but much like a swan on the top I may elude a calm serene like composure but underneath I am frantically flapping my feet trying to keep the house up-together, keep on top of the washing/drying/ironing cycle, provide nice home cooked meals for everyone whilst getting everyone from A to B with a little one who hates being contained in a car seat or buggy for more than 5 minutes and don’t even get me started on putting him in a trolley it simply doesn’t happen! But I suppose what I have learnt even from writing this post is that I am doing all these things, just about, I am still smiling (most days) but I don’t think it’s unreasonable of me to want to have fun and enjoy my children?
This week I took the boys to our local Osborne House and I can honestly say for the first time in a long time I enjoyed them both, wholeheartedly, we had fun, it wasn’t stressful they were both so good and we truly had a lovely day. I don’t know if it was the sunshine, the open space or a combination of the two but I loved our day out together and I got home and just felt happy at what a fantastic time we had had.
I think I am slowly learning that as a habitually impatient person I need to learn not to keep rushing life, my children’s development or the grief process. I know it will all happen. I am in recovery, the rest of my life will be spent ‘recovering’ the loss of Betty and some days will be harder than others. I am really trying to be kinder to myself and constantly reminding myself that I am not alone in this – other parents are feeling like me too. The other night I looked at Betty’s pictures something I hadn’t done for sometime, and I was shocked almost at how gorgeous she was. That sounds like such a strange thing to say I know, but I think most days I spend a lot of time with the thought of her being gone, dead, in my head I forget that she was a real life baby, she was ready for life so she didn’t look dead, she just looked asleep, in fact after looking at her this week she looked so much like Vinnie but just in a girly form.
I often wonder what she would look like now, and then I look at both my boys and give myself a sharp metaphorical slap in the face and remind myself just how fortunate I am, when I’m having a wobble, when it’s hard I need to keep remembering what it feels like to loose one. For them to be gone, being helpless to change a decision that is completely taken out of your hands and I need to give myself a strong talking too. I am strong, I have been through the worst, this is my time now. This is my motherhood here, now, I need to stop waiting for when life will get easier, live in the now, know all this will pass, but enjoy it, enjoy my husband, my two boys, our home, our life and remember her everyday as our beautiful little girl. All of these things are a part of me and I am the only one who can control my own feelings and future. I am one lucky mama to have them all, I am theirs and they are mine and what a wonderful thing that is, that I have that. They all in their own special way make up a piece of my happy place and I will never take that for granted.
My boys, my beautiful Betty, thank you for making me a mummy, however hard any day gets at the end of it we all have each other and there can never be anything better than that.