My sister is a reporter, although I usually say "journalist," otherwise people think she's on tv. (She is, but only once in a while). She writes a weekly parenting column titled "Multitasking Moms and Dads," and my kids and I are often mentioned. Back in August 2014, Laura wrote a whole column about how excited she was to be having a niece (feel free to click to read but this one is tough for me now). In December 2014, she wrote about how that niece died just before she was born. And this Thanksgiving, she wrote about how she is grateful for both of her nieces.
Recently, she polled Facebook for fodder for another article: "What advice would you share with other parents?"
"Go to the bathroom before you leave the house. The kids too," wrote our friend Kati.
"Wine," I responded.
"This too shall pass," wrote my cousin.
Her comment made me tear up.
Here's what I'm realizing: most stages do in fact pass.
But, when your child is dead, and she remains a perfect little baby in your memory, and she will never grow and never change - that will never pass.
My grief? That will never pass.
The missing person at the Thanksgiving table? That will never pass.
I wrote something snippy underneath her comment.
Then I went back and deleted it.
Not about you, or your dead baby, I reminded myself. Not about bereaved parents, I reminded myself. Most parents don't have a dead child, I reminded myself. Usually this statement is true, I reminded myself.
And I also reminded myself, no wonder everyone thinks you're so damn sensitive. You are!
And my cousin's advice is in fact resonating with me these days. Because no matter how scared I was that I would never have this, it's actually quite challenging to be home with a toddler and a newborn. (Or maybe she's an infant these days? How long does the "newborn" stage last? I digress...)
Josephine doesn't really sleep. Not at night anyway. She averages under an hour and fifteen minutes eating sessions, and that includes the middle of the night (and that's start to start!) Last night she was up every hour.
So I don't really sleep.
And Benjamin? Let's just say he's a head-strong two-and-a-half year old who has some head-strong two-and-a-half year old tantrums. And he's still learning how to play by himself and wants his mother to constantly entertain him.
But I also feel like I can't - or shouldn't anyway- complain.
Not after losing one of my kids. Not after having no tolerance for anyone who complains about their kids. Not after being so scared for Bowie's life. Not after meeting so many friends who are struggling to have living children of their own. Not when this is what I have wanted for so long (of course, what I want is to be home with my three healthy, living children but I think that goes without saying).
Not when these two kids are here. They are here.
Instead, I am trying to have patience with where we are. Knowing that one day, Josephine will sleep through the night. Knowing that one day, Benjamin will wipe his own bum. And also, Josephine will not stop crying the moment I pick her up and will not fit perfectly into the crook of my arm, and Benjamin will not ask me to rub his back and will not ask questions like "Mom, will you help me do this by myself?"
Because these moments will pass.