Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Day. Again.

I woke up at 3:37am last night. I had to pee. When I got back to bed, Rerun wasn't moving. I lay awake in the dark and tossed and turned until the reassuring kicks and jabs comforted me. But I couldn't turn off my brain.

In 2010, Mother's Day was May 9th. I wrote a blog post that day and saved it, waiting to publish it until first making this announcement in July.

I remember that day in vivid, technicolor detail. I remember the jeans I was wearing--my favorite, ancient pair of Abercrombie jeans with a hole in the knee. I remember the way my stomach flipped when I saw two pink lines, and how I'd thought I'd tell David in some cute or special way but instead I just came out of the bathroom grinning like a goofball and waving the pregnancy test around and feeling so giddy. Not only was I pregnant, but I even had a great story to tell. I became a mom on Mother's Day with that positive pregnancy test. How cute would that be to write in Baby Duck's baby book?

When I think about that day now, I see it from the outside. Like I'm watching myself, a sinking feeling in my stomach because I know where all that excitement and joy is heading. That was my only Mother's Day as a mom that was purely happy without any complications.

Now Mother's Day is more of a reminder of a certain kind of happiness that I'll never have. And maybe what I've gained in the years that have followed IS a kind of recompense for grief--the friendships, the connections, the understanding, the empathy, the love, and, of course, this:

But for all that has been gained, there has been too great a loss. I'm past the point of being able to make ridiculous bargains with the universe. There's no trading, and too much time has gone by to keep begging that it can be turned back. But I'll never stop wishing that Eliza was here, too.

* * *

I don't mind showing appreciation for my mom on Mother's Day. I like buying her a gift and picking out a card.

I love that Zuzu made me a gift at daycare that I'm supposed to wait and open on Sunday but that I might go ahead and open tonight because I really want to see what it is.

My mom and Zuzu are both great reminders of why Mother's Day should be celebrated.

But Mother's Day is also a brutal reminder of how innocent and optimistic and happy-without-complication or explanation or justification I was on that day in 2010. I had defended my dissertation and was looking forward to graduation. I had submitted my first academic article for publication. I was going to turn 30 that summer and everything that I wanted was right on track.

My friend Melissa wrote recently about how she still feels like her life got hijacked and I couldn't agree more.

For a while, everything was going according to plan--a plan that we had worked for and saved for and hoped for--and then, well, my life got hijacked. Everything fell apart. We didn't bring our baby home and I fell into the darkest winter of my life. Everything spun out of control and I didn't just lose my baby, I also lost the person that I thought I would be, the person that I wanted to be. Sometimes I still feel like I'm making my way back, only everything is different. Better, worse... those categories don't fit. It's more like trying to fit back into my old self and my old life, but without being able to or wanting to let go of this burden of grief I carry--a burden that sets me apart from almost everyone else.

* * *

Eliza's trees bloom in the spring time, and spring is not my season of grief.

In fact, given that it has marked the third trimester of my pregnancies with Zuzu and Rerun, it's really my season of hope.

Thanks for looking like you're pooping in this picture, Zuzu.
But then there's this one day in May.

On Mother's Day, as I miss Eliza, I also mourn the mom I might have been. I don't know if I would have been better or worse or mostly the same as the mom I am to Zuzu (honestly, I think I would have been mostly the same but maybe less neurotic about whether she's breathing at 3am).

But I would have been the kind of mom who, when asked how many kids she has, doesn't have to take a deep breath and decide whether to drop the dead baby bomb or keep quiet.

I would have been the kind of mom who doesn't cringe inwardly when people tell me how great or different or hard or fun things will be with "two kids instead of one."

I wouldn't have my excitement of Zuzu as a big sister tempered by the wish that I could have known her as the little sister.

The truth is that with all the twists and turns and loops life takes, it's impossible to know what kind of mom I would be now, if Eliza were here, or what our family would look like now. But Mother's Day brings out an ugly jealousy in me that I feel like is usually under control. I'm jealous of moms whose only associations with Mother's Day are happy ones. I resent those who can celebrate without reservations.

It's not nice and it's not fair, but that's just how it is.

At the same time, I know that Mother's Day is hard for a lot of people. People who have lost their moms. Mothers who have lost their kids. Dads who are raising kids on their own. Couples who are longing for a baby and grappling with the unfairness of infertility. People who would love to adopt but are limited by finances, age, or sexual orientation.

Being Zuzu's mom is my favorite thing ever. I celebrate it every day when I hug and kiss and squeeze and laugh at her and her crazy antics. I celebrate it every day when I say "No!" for the umpteenth time as she attempts to do something ridiculously unsafe, when she goes boneless and collapses on the floor because I won't let her eat two cereal bars for dinner, when I dig something ridiculously dangerous out of her mouth (an acorn, a penny, a bottlecap--where does she find these things? why does she want to eat them?).

So I'm just taking the pressure off Mother's Day. It's not going to be special or meaningful or full of jewelry. I have a gift for my mom I'll probably give to her early and we'll let Sunday be like any other Sunday. Because these days, ordinary Sundays are actually pretty freaking magical around here.

* * *

It was after 4am and I couldn't fall back asleep. I finally started crying. It seemed like it had been a long time since I cried for Eliza. I tried to be quiet, but David's a light sleeper and when he asked me what was wrong, I said, "I miss her. I want her to be here with us."

And he said the only thing there is to say: "I know. Me too." For this Mother's Day and everydamnone after that.

P.S. Mother's Day 2011, the first year after Eliza.

Mother's Day 2012

Mother's Day 2013 (almost the same title as 2011--didn't even realize that until just now!)


  1. Ditto. Makes me cry. For you, for her. For me, for him. All of us

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  3. Your sweet post brought tears to my eyes. This is my first Mother's Day without our little L and it breaks my heart.

  4. So much to say, but maybe all there really needs to be is what your wise husband did so simply, so perfectly.

    I know. Me too.

  5. Mother's Day is tricky. So much to be happy about and yet so much to be sad/ugly jealous about, too.

    <3 I went back and re-read "almost". Damn. That's crazy still.

    Happy Mother's Day, Brooke.

    I love Zuzu's pooping face in the stroller. hilarious ;)