I'd like to tell you that I spent those six nights eating out with my husband, sipping wine, and watching movies on Netflix. I'd like to tell you that I joyfully celebrated both her newfound independence and my own.
I would like to tell you that.
I. was. utterly. inexplicably. unjustifiably. disappointingly. DEPRESSED!
Okay, I got better by about Wednesday. It did get better. Ben even canceled the intervention he had scheduled once he saw that I was out of bed and brushing my hair again. (I'm kidding, people! It wasn't that bad. I mean, I still had to get out of bed to EAT. I don't think there is anything that will stop me from getting to the food.)
But I did have to come to terms with the fact that I might not be completely prepared for my youngest child to move from childhood to full-blown adolescence. It is possible I need to do some work when it comes to finding my identity outside of my role as 'mom'.
It's funny, too, because I am really not the most sentimental mom. I didn't cry sending my kids to Kindergarten, or college, or any grade in between. For the most part, I'm always pretty on board with my kids hitting new milestones and spreading their wings and all that. So, what was different here?
Truthfully, I just missed her.
I knew she was having a blast. I knew she was safe. I knew she was going to come home with enough stories to last for DAYS. But Annie has been my sidekick for 12 years now in a way that has been different than it was with the boys.
This isn't about "favorites" or anything as ridiculous as that. Anyone who knows me knows my boys have my whole heart from now until the end of time. I am literally nuts about them. But they came along as almost a package deal. Even at three years apart, I feel like they were mostly raised together, growing from babies, to little boys, to bigger boys, to teens, in fairly close proximity to one another. They shared bedrooms (often literally sharing a bed), friends, teachers, carpools...and were always, always..."the boys".
When Annie was a toddler she would call them "my boys".
"Where are my boys?"
"My boys can be very loud."
"My boys are so naughty."
They were and are "the boys" and the boys appropriately stopped needing to be attached to mom 24/7 a long, long time ago. There are wistful moments, and sweet memories, but I got used to it quite awhile ago.
However, truth be told, I think part of what made that letting go easier, is the little sister who came along behind them to heal their mama's heart.
It's hard to adequately put into words the confusing conundrum of good rising out of bad. But it's a paradox of life we see all the time. People speak of silver linings, or blessings, or karma, or sometimes even, maddeningly in my opinion, the idea of having received a reward for one's suffering. And even though sometimes those words and explanations frustrate me, because they don't fit with my faith, or experience, or simply my heart...I know they are there because the right words don't exist.
We don't have the words to say, "I hate what happened to me. I still hate it. I still wish it never happened. But I'm so grateful for the things that came into my life because of it."
All I can think to say is that it is ultimately the language of healing. Because I don't think we begin to heal until we can open ourselves up to the possibility that light, and love, and joy, and new beginnings are possible. We open ourselves up knowing that it never means we have to say this loss, or experience, or journey isn't still painful. We never have to pretend it didn't happen. We just don't have to let it block out the light.
When I went back to my amazing, wonderful, compassionate fertility doctor after the loss of our twins, he cleared his schedule and sat down with me for more than hour. He didn't want to just know what happened (he already knew all the medical details), he wanted to know my story. He wanted to know how I was doing. He wanted assurance that I was getting help, and support, and that I was being allowed to grieve.
He knew I was there because I was considering trying for another baby. There was no other reason for me to be there and part of me was afraid he was going to look at this broken woman in front of him and say, no. No, you are not ready. No, you are not strong enough for this yet. No, I'm not willing to help you open yourself to that kind of pain again.
All he asked me was, "Are you sure you are ready?"
I gulped back tears and said quietly, "I know it won't 'fix' anything. I know there will always be a part of me that will feel sad about this loss, and these babies. But..."
I struggled to compose myself. I took several deep breaths and he waited quietly.
"But...I need to feel hope again. I don't want to be afraid to hope again."
He nodded and gave me a small smile. He looked out the window and thought to himself for a few moments.
Then he squeezed my hand across the table and said, "Okay, then. Time to turn toward the sun."
And I knew exactly what he meant.
So, you will forgive me when I have some weak moments as my Annie girl marches forward into these years of greater independence, searching, separating, and struggle. Even so, I promise that at the end of the day she will have no more enthusiastic cheerleader than her mom. I am with her, for her, and I would never want to be the one to hold her back.
Still...there is a reason I have always called her my Sunshine.
|You make me happy when skies are gray.|