This may be the best parenting advice I’ve received since V. was born, from a mother of three:
“Just let shit go… it’s ok. It will get done. Sleep!!!! Enjoy your baby.”
I’ve thought of it when the clutter, literal and metaphorical, rises, and thought I’d share. It applies to so much, I think. Shouldn’t we let go of all the non-essentials we can? We should accomplish in time, but also rest, also enjoy. No one gets to the end of her life and reflects on all the toys she put away. All the same, I’ve been meaning to tell you about two pieces published the month V. was born. It was nice to feel productive as a newborn nested on my chest, after the work had been done.
Most naps I still hold her and soak in her peace. Even though, if H. is also asleep, it’s the time I could technically “get something done,” like washing, drying, and folding the laundry. Or, returning email. Or, showering. Or, publishing a new post. But when the house is quiet, these respites of ours are also the only time I have to revel in her, the beautiful chaos of raising two momentarily settled down to our eye contact. After she closes hers, I close mine and drift, not to sleep, but into this kind of hum because I’ve decided to let the rest wait—the laundry and the peanut butter dried to the plate and the words lining up in my mind. I try to float there as you do on the surface of the water, hands softly sculling, part of your body in the water and the rest somehow not.
But it’s important to get here, to the words… though by the time I will really get going on this post, H. will be waking up. The laptop will be closed and pushed to the bottom of the bed and I will have the great privilege of holding H. as she slowly wakes up, a new routine she has instigated. As she tucks her arms under her belly and against my chest, V. will continue to nap alongside us. It will be all of five minutes, but this short rest of ours will fill up a part of my heart in a way nothing else can, and I will be grateful I didn’t miss it. I will remind myself of my friend’s words, that it’s all ok. My girls are here. They are healthy. They need me in ways they never will again. They cannot wait. The words will simply have to until another day rotates back to another hands-free hour.
And so it does. Herewith, two pieces marking new stages of the journey:
I recently reviewed Poor Your Soul by Mira Ptacin for Literary Mama. Mira lost in the way we did. Her first baby. Incompatible with life. A heartbreaking decision. Being a writer, she also wrote it all down in this first literary memoir about TFMR. It’s incredibly validating to emerge from the margins with this kind of recognition. Within choice, however, our stories differ, as they should. As Mira writes of all that leads to choices like ours, there are:
“the moments and experiences that came before her loss, and the moments and experiences before the baby, the moments and experiences before those.”
And the moments and experiences that follow, I might add, because no story is ever only its ending. I’ve done my best to lay those down, too, with the story and its truth in a memoir of my own. It will be four years this Thursday, after all, since I held Lorenzo. So many moments before and since, though that one hour often feels like the nexus, connected now to the births of my daughters.
You may read my full review here. I encourage you to read Mira’s book and support these experiences.
I’ve also gotten to a new aspect of the truth thanks to the On Coming Alive Project. Its founder, Lexi Behrndt, lost her infant son to CHD and asked me to participate. In so doing, she provided an opportunity to ask myself how I come alive on this journey, with its hearts and its words, and the little sisters it has led to. I took stock of where I am in my kind of motherhood, in its humbling tumult of joy and challenge and redemption. It is always and forever rooted in the most difficult decision Ryan and I ever had to make, but also in love and protection and mercy. So I come alive with that knowledge.
You may read my full answer to the question here, and I hope you’ll explore the other stories gathered around this idea of hope rising up from the ash. The Project includes stories of parents whose love and protection led to different answers. Even if so many of us arrive at loss, the story, again, is not only its ending, so they must share theirs and I, four years on, must continue to share mine.
Thank you to all of you who continue to read.