To preface this anecdote, I would like to explain that my mom has been a super-Oma since we found out that Lydie's heart stopped beating. She came the second she heard, and she stayed for the next two weeks. She took Ben to daycare, made sure I ate, answered the door when friends dropped off food, bought us groceries and tissues, and tucked both Justin and me into bed every night. And now that we are in a slightly better place and can tuck ourselves into bed, she has been nothing but supportive and loving and caring to me -- and to Justin -- while she is also deeply grieving the death of her granddaughter.
Sometimes I hear stories of family members that aren't at all supportive after the death of a baby, like my friend's mother-in-law who told her to change her facebook profile photo - a candle with her son's name and the date he died. My friend's mother-in-law told her it was depressing. No shit it's depressing, your grandson died.
Stories like this make me ever-so-grateful for my own mother. Still, one thing my mother struggles with is thinking before she speaks. (I have also always had this issue, but as I continue to figure out the ways that I have changed since the death of my daughter, I can already tell that I respond more slowly, I talk less and think more, I am quieter and more introverted.)
So on Sunday morning, when Ben grabbed a full coffee mug and dumped coffee all over the table, the floor, him, and me (and this is after he puked on me the night before), and I said, "Never a dull moment!" she responded, "Just wait until you have three."
And I went ballistic.
That's the good news about my family. We don't hold back. I don't have to hide my tears, I don't have to pretend something didn't bother me.
Instead I said, "Did you just fucking say that to me? Do you realize what you just said to me? What an asinine thing to say to me!"
My mom apologized profusely and ran up the stairs to cry in her room.
Eventually I went up there.
I asked her if she thought I had one or two kids. Because while I have two children - I will always, always claim Lydie as my daughter - Lydie will never puke on me or spill coffee all over me. I said to her, "It's a lot more work to take care of a dead baby than a living baby."
I said to her that I want more children, of course I do, but do you know what it will take to have them? Do you understand the fear, the anxiety, the stress? Do you think you should be flippant about me having three children?
My mom cried a lot and apologized a lot. She said she wants so badly to ease the pain for me and she hates that sometimes she says the wrong thing and it hurts me more. I told her she has got to think before she speaks. She said no one is trying to say things that hurt me. I told her I don't care; I don't excuse people's stupid comments because they are trying to help.
I told her this is why I isolate myself. Because my friend says going to the gym with her two kids makes her evenings more "bearable." When having both your children alive seems pretty fucking bearable to me. Or my sister complains about spending $25,000 a year on daycare. You know what's worse than spending $25,000 a year on daycare? NOT spending $25,000 a year on daycare, when you were planning to, because your daughter died.
I told her I need my parents' house to be a safe place for me. And that comments like that do not make it feel very safe.
I told her I hope she doesn't say things like that to other people. Because if I've learned anything, it's that we don't often know other people's stories and we don't know how little innocent comments we make, like "How many children do you have?" or "When are you having another?" or "They are going to have kids soon" can send a knife through their heart.
I know my mom loves me. And Justin and Benjamin and Lydie. And I'm glad we have an honest enough relationship that I call her on the offhand comment she made. And I hope it makes her think a little more.