Monday, March 16, 2009

Stepford mom

Henry's long illness and our foreknowledge of his death allowed a lot of anticipatory grieving. It wasn't easy, but I think that it's really softened the blow on this end. I'm not angry, I'm not shocked, and I hope I'm not in denial. I really really really miss him, and I hope I always will. Sometimes it's in a fond bittersweet way, sometimes much more raw pain. It's what I anticipated, I guess.

Some things I didn't anticipate. This weekend we took the girls to a local resort, hoping for a time to heal and to try our family's sea legs with our new structure, new rhythm. What I realized as I watched the gobs of other families there is that I'm grieving for my family of five. It's what I always wanted and what I had. The day we brought my middling home from the hospital my husband and I looked at each other and said, "She's wonderful, but two isn't enough." This weekend, I couldn't get away from that thought. I looked at my beautiful healthy thriving girls and thought "Two isn't enough."

I feel myself reaching for it, grasping it, trying to get it, in a way that I don't with Henry. This is part of why I think I've really accepted his death, and where I want to be emotionally. I want to love him, remember him, miss him, without my brain trying to get him back in futility. But I haven't let my concept of "my family" go yet. It feels like one of those big metal puzzles where the ring is stuck in the middle and you can't get it off, but you know that if you try long enough, or just figure out the secret, you'll be able to.
if I have another child we'll have five again and it won't be Henry but it will help balance again but then there will be so much space between the kids that they won't play with each other so maybe I should have two more but then when the Eldest goes off to college the baby will only be 5 and they'll never bond and maybe I should consider adoption but I never really thought of myself as the adoption type and adoption takes so long anyway I should just get pregnant again now but then...
Somewhere my brain believes that there is a solution to this, that there is a way to get my family back. I hate feeling this way. I feel like it cheapens Henry and my love for him, like his place in my perfect little family was more important than him as a human being, as my son.

I need to look at this "family", hold it, examine it from all angles, and then put it down. It's not mine anymore, and there's no way it can be.

14 comments:

Cathy said...

Here is just something I want to tell you. My son and DIL have 3 children. One of them is 19 and began college this last fall, one is 11 and in the 5th grade at middle school. Then along came a baby 2 years ago. You do not need the worry of the age difference as they will all bond just fine. The older kids adore their baby brother, as he does them. I was surprised at this as I also thought the age differences would make them not close. The one that is in college can not wait for the weekends so he can get home to see and play with his little brother. They are all as close as if they were stair steps.

femail doc said...

Motherhood, all this vulnerability and no control. So we work out scenarios in our head to accommodate change and have some control. Your grieving process is just how it should be and oh so painful. What mother hasn't lived with scenarios, guilt, hope, grief. My heart goes out to yours.

Jen said...

I don't believe that you are cheapening Henry's memory at all...I think that sometimes it takes our brains a while to process things. I think that when your kids are born, everyone has a vision in their heads of what their "family" is. I hope that you don't find this presumptuous on my part, but rearranging and processing your view of your "family" might take some time. When all of my triplets were diagnosed with autism, I had to go through many of the same grieving stages in order to come to terms with what my vision of my family was, versus what it is. I know that it is not the same as what you are going through, but all of a sudden everything that I'd hoped and assumed for my children and family was gone. And then one of my daughters got cancer, I had to rearrange my thinking about my family and what we were and what we could be all over again.

I'm not equating our experiences as that would be ridiculous, but please do not beat yourself up over this. In my experience with our friends whose children weren't as lucky as my daughter ended up being, it's something that you will figure out and come to terms with, and you should not feel badly about it.

I feel for your pain, and wish that there was something that anyone could do.

ADB said...

Your family will always be minus one from now on, whether you have more children or not. You'll come to terms with that fact, either way, I believe.

Indigo said...

There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a child. Your words carry the weight of your loss and love for Henry. I think when love is present, the age difference of children isn't as big as we may think it is. As for another child right now...only you know if your ready, strong enough to take that path. Your in my thoughts dear friend. (Hugs)Indigo

rlbates said...

I think you will find your "balance" again. Don't mean to belittle you or Henry or your family with this analogy, but even "three-legged" dogs can run and play given the chance.

SOCKS said...

This is no surprise to me - when I am with you and observe you and your family, I can sense all of this quandary.

As you search for an answer, time passes. As time passes the answer will gain clarity.

You will love and be loved no matter what - and your family will flourish, no matter what. They've already proven that.

webhill said...

When I miscarried my second pregnancy, I had some similar feelings, along the lines of "I need to be pregnant right away to replace this horrible loss," and then "now my child spacing plan is off and that sucks" and then "I am a horrible person, thinking I can just replace the baby I lost with a subsequent pregnancy..." With your situation, I only imagine it must be magnified x 10000, and I feel for you, I really do. FWIW your feelings are totally valid. You will figure out what to do. I will tell you this: my MIL's kids range in age from 37 to 23 - and the youngest did miss out on playing with the others during some stages of their lives, but the four siblings remain extremely close to this day - much closer than I am with my 2-yrs-younger jerk-off of a brother, I can tell you that! We visit her all the time in the city where she is working on her PhD and our kids love their young and energetic aunt. Anyway. With time your family will heal, I am sure, because you are strong, and bright, and loving, based on your writing in this little blog space...

Anonymous said...

Well said Socks!

RRNC

...tom... said...

.

I need to look at this "family", hold it, examine it from all angles, and then put it down. It's not mine anymore, and there's no way it can be.


This is the thought that touches my mind, my heart.

That 'family of five' is indeed broken, not physically whole. But I really do not think that makes it any less your family.

I think even if you were to try to fill that physical hole, you would find you now have a family of six. Which would have its own rewards.


As already suggested, time (time to meld your family's past, present, and future) is your 'friend' rather than your enemy.


Thinking of you and yours...


...tom...
.

Rini said...

Just one more reassurance that large age differences can still bond. My baby brother was born my first semester in college, and I loooove going home to see him.

I suppose I probably have more of an "aunt" relationship to him in some ways than a "sister" relationship - and we certainly didn't grow up together. But in some ways I think that makes us even closer than I am to some siblings that are more my own age.

FrankandMary said...

It is a public blog so I have to get over the sense I am intruding....but I feel this must be such a tender, fragile time. You say it so well, but even if you did not, could not, I'd read and try to send you the most comforting of thoughts.~Mary

Anonymous said...

You write so beautifully and have helped so many. If you do decide to have more children, please do not worry about the age difference. My oldest and youngest entered college and kindergarten the same year and they are as bonded as you can get. They are connected in a different way, for there is no sibling rivalry, just love similar to a mother's love. I hope this helps you as you have so many other.

Perceval said...

I agree with ...tom... - if you do have another, you may well be a family of six in your heart.

There's no right or wrong, there are just your feelings.