Monday, August 27, 2012

Friends With Kids

I saw some of my best friends on Sunday.  And many (though not quite all) of their kids.  With the six of us girls who still see each other on a fairly regular basis, there are a total of twelve (living) kids.  Four of us were pregnant at the same time in 2010, three of us were pregnant again in 2012.  This six of us and ten of our kids got together on Sunday.  It was crazy and loud and so much fun.  It's just amazing to know that we've gone from college drama to the dramedy of raising kids.  It's fun to see the kids so close in age, how well they play together, how much they look like one parent or the other.

Carol's Noah and Sam make me smile, with their huge brown eyes and brown curly hair and their bilingual English/Portuguese skills.  Sam is three, Noah will be two in December.

Jamie's Owen will be two in October.  He cracks me up because he's such a stocky little guy right now and both his parents are tall and thin and he squeezes his juice box in the middle so it spills and he plays so hard he gets red faced and sweaty.

Beth's Lilly will turn three in October.  She has her dad's big blue eyes and stands out as the quiet one in a noisy group, although she can be plenty noisy at home.  Her ponytail is perky and she even keeps her dress clean and when I ask her new baby sister's name, she whispers, "Evie."

Allison's Aubrey is tall for her age (just turned three) and has the kind of hair that I still envy--gorgeous blonde bouncing curls.  In an extra twist of unfairness, she somehow has thick, dark eyelashes as well. Wade is Aubrey's big brother (he'll be five very soon) and even taller than she is--he looks like such a grown up boy with his talk of jet planes and he (politely) asks for seconds on cake before everyone has gotten firsts.

Stephanie's Evelyn has just met everyone for the first time but asserts herself with the confidence of a girl who has two brothers (one fourteen months older, one who's her twin).  She will be two in November, and in her world, there's no car that can't be driven, no slide that can't be slid, no potted tree that can't be pulled over.

The babies in the bunch were all born this summer and are stairstepped--Jamie's Nathan is about a month older than Caroline who is just about a month older than Beth's Evie.

I loved seeing all of them together (and their moms).  But of course I kept thinking about the little girl who wasn't there.  The little girl who should have been a month younger than Evelyn, almost the exact same age as Noah, three months younger than Owen.  Would she have been shy or bossy?  Would she be talking?  Would she prefer dresses or shorts?  Would she buddy up with Evelyn or want to shadow Aubrey or Lilly?  Or would she prefer to play trains with the boys?

I see those kids who are right where she was supposed to be and I see how breathtakingly BIG they are, what strong little personalities they have, what amazing things they are capable of doing and saying and feeling (Noah played hide and see with me under the table, Evelyn wanted to swing so high, Owen fell in love with a stuffed Clifford dog).

I see these kids and I feel so glad that they are here and safe and healthy.  I'm relieved that my friends have been spared the pain and grief that David and I have felt.  I'm also insanely jealous.  All I want is for both my kids to be alive.  Why is that so easy for everyone else and so impossible for me?

This has been the first time we all got together since Eliza died (well, it's the first time I was there--it's possible that they got together and tactfully didn't mention it to me).  I know there's no way I could have done it before Caroline was born.  In that way, she has made life easier to handle.

I was so afraid for so long of seeing these kids and missing Eliza.  I was afraid of being overwhelmed with anger and sadness and bitterness.  And I can't say that those feelings are completely gone.  But I can love my friends' kids for who they are, both in spite of and also because they are a reminder of Eliza.

David and I were talking last night about how much Caroline has filled up the hole in our lives that Eliza left.  The busy-ness of parenting, the fun of picking out clothes and visiting family and watching her become more and more aware of the world around her--we have that now and it is so, so sweet.  But the point of our conversation was that there's still an emptiness--a quiet space that could only be for Eliza.

I felt that quiet emptiness yesterday, surrounded by friends, laughter, chatter, the occasional shrieking child or fussing baby.

I held my baby and I hugged my friends and I was so grateful for all that's good in my life.  And I can't even tell you how much I missed my first little girl and everything that should have been.

Don't be confused!  I'm actually holding Nathan (third from left) and my friend Allison (the pretty blond) is holding Caroline

11 comments:

  1. I've continued taking Eleanor to the same playgroup for several years now, and it has been so hard watching all the other moms have their healthy second children. But there's no way I could give Eleanor a normal childhood if I avoided all those babies the way I sometimes want to. Baby-loss parents are some of the strongest people on earth (you know, in my humble opinion).

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  2. Nathan is eyeing Caroline again....
    :-) Peggy

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  3. What a full house! I can't believe how many kids are there!!

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  4. Oh sweet Brooke.. I completely understand.. 5 living kids to fill my arms and yet, still, there will always be a space that can never be filled by anyone other than him. Sending love.. and what a sweet picture!

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  5. How absolutely wonderful, and as is so often in this life, heartbreaking.

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  6. I recently wrote a similar post - its a hard thing to be both happy and bitter... Maybe not even "hard" but just heavy. Lots of conflicting emotions. I know what you mean about loving on other kids in spite of and because of your baby.

    Everything I cross paths with a two year old who was born around the time Cale was I am smacked with the reality of what I'm missing "oh! So that's what a little boy that age is like" ... I imagine I'll be saying the same thing forever.

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  7. yes, so easy for them, and impossible for me.
    This is so true. It's so real.
    I have 2 friends that had babies in 2009 (along with D's sister). All their firsts. And now, they're all working on, or have had their seconds.

    I just so completely dont fit. I still am childless to the majority. It's hard, because they still want to see me, and hang out with their gang of children as we used to...but someone is so desperately missing, and I'm the only one that really notices.

    I think you're doing great Brooke. And I concur with the above comment - stongest people ever, we are!

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  8. I can imagine this get together being so bittersweet. I have 3 close friends with kids that I get together with often for play dates and encounter these same feelings. When I had my miscarriage, my friend was pregnant with her second little boy and we were due days apart, her little boy is almost 3 and she is pregnant with another. Another friend just had her 3rd as well. So I think about how I should have my 3 kids like them and how my girls are missing from all of the fun memories we make with them. Plus, now that they are pregnant or have just had a baby, most of the talk is about pregnancy, baby items, newborn pictures,etc. I feel a little out of place at times, but they are my best friends and their kids are my son's friends. I'm glad you had a nice visit, hopefully each time comes with less of a sting.

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  9. By the way, it was nice to meet you at dinner:)

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  10. God I could relate so, so much to this. xo

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  11. You all are so blessed to have each other as friends. Good group of mamas!

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