Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day at the Park

We wanted to do Father's Day low-key.  It doesn't get the hype of Mother's Day, which makes it a little easier to swallow, but I knew it wasn't going to be an especially easy day for David, who was missing both his baby girl and his grandpa this year.

I gave him a card but no gifts.  It was actually a weirdly appropriate father's day card that was mostly about what a great husband he is and how glad I am to be with him on this journey of parenthood.  (Nice one, Target).  He didn't get emotional on me, but I teared up when he read it because I just kept thinking about what kind of silly little craft project involving handprints and finger painting Eliza and I would have put together for him.  It could have been such a different kind of morning, you know?

After breakfast (he made omelets), we decided to go for a walk in the park.  It was humid and hot but not quite stifling yet.

Cooper, Me, and 38 Weeks of the Deuce
We left Little Mac at home, because the last time we took her for a walk in the park, she slipped and fell into the pond, soaking her butt.  I had to drag her out by the leash because she is not a water dog.  Then she smelled like wet dog plus disgusting stagnant water.

As if that weren't bad enough, she had a sort of mental breakdown after the trauma of her unexpected swim and the general exhaustion of walking in the heat, so when we returned to the car, she refused to jump up into the back seat.

HOWEVER, she also refused to allow David or me to lift her up into the car.  This meant that the two of us were hovering over her, afraid to touch her but trying to encourage her to "Load up!" while she threw a barking/growling/snarling/lunging fit.  Her eyes were rolling and I seriously thought she might start foaming at the mouth.

We tried to get a blanket under her legs so we could lift her up in a sling, but she kept attacking the blanket and her leash in her effort to bite us.

I love her, but she is such an ungrateful little bitch.  So she created a HUGE and ridiculous scene, and people walking/jogging/bicycling by kept staring at us because her snarling was louder than their iPods.  I was totally mortified, as it sounded like we were cruelly abusing our small dog, when actually we were just trying to GET HER IN THE CAR.

After several minutes of this, I finally hit the end of my patience, dragged her around to the other side of the car, and used the momentum to lift/drag her by her leash/collar/neck into the back floorboard.  When we got home, she was still being totally hateful and she kept trying to bite David (who tried to gently help her out of the car), so he finally hosed her down in the backyard because he couldn't pick her up to put her in the bathtub without her drawing blood, and we HAD to get the pond-stank off of her.

So we had a parenting pow-wow and decided that Little Mac had lost her park privileges for next time.

Wut-ever.  I not sorry.  U guyz suck.
Here.  I givz u stink-eye.  Ur welcome.
So anyway, today it was just Cooper and David and me who headed for the park.  We had a pretty nice walk around our favorite little path, and we were enjoying the slightly overcast sky that kept the sun from frying us.

It was a busy morning at the park--lots of bikers, joggers, roller bladers.  I got a lot of sympathetic smiles from women who passed us on the path as I trotted waddled along.  Then we passed a middle-aged couple who smiled pleasantly at my belly, just before the woman cheerfully shouted to us, "Happy Father's Day NEXT year!"

My throat seized up.  We gave her fake smiles in return, saying nothing.  Then we turned off the path to walk around a small lake and David muttered, "Yeah, thanks for that."

I gave him a squeeze, but what was there to say?  We are so lucky that the Deuce is currently hiccuping away in my belly, but seriously.  Ouch.  As though we needed ONE MORE REMINDER that we weren't pushing a stroller with an 18-month-old baby in it.

So we strolled along off the path near the pond, away from other people.  We paused in the shade of the cedar trees around the pond and watched a bird with a crawdad in its beak.

Isn't that creepy?  We never saw the bird actually eat the crawdad.  It just stood there holding it.
We watched the bird until Cooper got antsy and tugged at his leash.

Then we headed back to the car with only half of our family with us.

* * *

Share is a national organization for bereaved parents.  We have occasionally attended a local group here, and have met some great people and found some relief by attending a few meetings, especially in that first year.  I did not want to belong to a "grief support group" but I'm so glad that this organization exists.  This year, they sent out a you tube video for father's day, about how grief works differently for dads.  You can view it here.

The part that sticks with me is the part about "fixing the problem."  David has talked about how stressful it was for him in the early weeks and months when I was crying frequently constantly and he felt so helpless.  Sometimes he would react in ways that were so confusing and hurtful--he'd practically ignore me when I was sobbing.  He explained later (when we met with our therapist) that he didn't know how to help me and after several weeks, it made him feel so anxious and stressed out that he could hardly stand to be around me when I was that upset.  We had to have a LONG talk about what would help me (like, you know, a hug) and what helps him (he was ready for distractions long before I could even get up off the couch).  Thankfully, we both wanted to take care of each other.  We just weren't always sure how to do it.

It feels like a long time ago that our grief was so sharp and all-consuming.  But I can remember it very vividly.  (Oddly enough, I can't remember father's day last year.  At all.  I tell you, Summer of 2011 just didn't really exist for me.)  I'm so glad we made it this far.

And maybe that lady at the park is right.  Maybe next year will be the first father's day with more happy than sad.


  1. The last line is so true. Matt and I said the same thing yesterday, "maybe next year will be the first year that Mother's Day and Father's Day are more happy than sad." The last two years have been so incredibly difficult. I hope to be able to celebrate as well as mourn on these holidays.

  2. I think our wonderful husbands are much alike. The one thing Elliot kept repeating was that although he was devastated that Andrew was gone, he was also so consumed by the grief of watching me grieve and not being able to fix or mend a thing.

    Some good friends saw Elliot and made a point to say, Happy FIRST Father's Day to him. Why? Why not just leave it at Happy Father's Day? It's already inaccurate using the term "happy" as though all is perfect. Did you really need to add that FIRST in there?

    I was walking with B the other day and a woman came up behind as she was speed walking, peered into the stroller and asked his age. Then she told me she'd be a grandmother soon (you're already one, you tool) and I congratulated her. She then asked if he was my first-- as if it mattered to a stranger. And why wouldn't you just assume it is as you speed walk past me. What does it matter to you anyway? I told her he was my second and she replied, "Wow! Aren't you ambitious!"

    Are. you. kidding. me?

    I'm glad the day was somewhat relaxing to spend together at the park. Same park where Eliza's tree is planted? That big one?

    I don't remember Father's Day last year either. Or a lot of days, honestly.

  3. Nice Post, Brooke.
    Yes, guess all husbands are like "want to take away all the pain". I have had days when my hubby would ignore my cries and he is not yet ready to talk about our Cutu at depths I want to. Yet, he has been and truly is my "Mr. Fixit"! Honestly, I don't like seeing him helpless with a feeling that he is unable to fix this!! Too many questions and not enough answers.

    Our lil pup did kind of a similar thing this weekend. He was barking hysterically while in time-out. I was not responding until he calmed down. Worse was before his calming down, our neighbor rang the doorbell and stood muted outside. We got it and felt so embarrassed thinking, sure they thought we were abusing our puppy!

  4. I think the two best pieces of advice we got very early on from other couples who had lost babies were: 1. It will get worse before it gets better, and 2. Men and women grieve differently. Even with the warning, sometimes we have had trouble remembering how different everything is for the two of us - even (like you said) how it feels to see the other person cry. I'm glad you guys have been able to communicate about this. We're still working on it.

    And I know he's difficult, but your Little Mac stories make me laugh. He does look super cute in photos.

  5. Ugh, people and their comments! Although it is crazy what a difference a year makes, I had just written about that myself and how this year has been so much better for us. I hope the same holds true for you guys, that this coming year will be filled with happy moments with the Deuce and the joy will greatly outweigh the grief.
    BTW, you look way too cute for 38wks pregnant! And your photo comments were seriously cracking me up! That Little Mac looks like quite the character!

  6. You look fantastic!!

    Wes acts just like Little Mac when it's time to leave the park. You guys will be set when you have a 3 year old.

  7. I hope you are taking pictures of that beautiful belly every day - maybe one day soon you can look back and say "this was taken the day I went into labor"

    Happy FIRST Father's Day is such a smack in the face. Now that Finn is a year people seem to think it's ok to constantly ask "when are you going to have #2?". .. . sign. He is #2.

    I hope that next year involves sweet projects with fingers and toes and and overflow of happiness.

  8. My obnoxious grandmother told Joe happy first father's day yesterday. I pretty much went off on her because I was already annoyed with her "what do you do all day?" "why don't you cook?" and then grabbing Luke and trying to hold him on her lap while he gave her annoyed looks and tried to get away. (I would have given him a lot of money if he had bit her, but no, save that for me.) Anyway, yeah, the obnoxious comments are pretty much forever, I guess. (Luke was here last year, seriously, and the year before that Olivia had

    You look ridiculously good for 38 weeks! Also I am kinda hoping you haven't texted me back because you are busy in labor with Deuce. But I guess not since you wrote this. But just so you know, you are going to have to write every day till Deuce arrives!

  9. You look gorgeous!
    I was all bitter about Father's Day this year, our traditions should have included others and they don't.
    Another sentence that will never cross my lips again. It's like a whole world I didn't realize existed in the every day conversations normally deemed appropriate. But that aren't.
    Light and love to the 4 of you.

  10. GEEZE you look all fabulous for 38 weeks prego.
    I think I had a harder day on fathers day than Daryl. We do not grieve the same AT ALL. it has been a difficult path that one. I am sorry he had to endure Hurtful comments, it just sucks every which way.

  11. First, thanks for the giggles associated with Mac's tirade and funny picture anecdotes. Love those light moments when you realize you're still capable of humor and laughter in the midst of constant anxiety - and appreciate how often (and seemingly easily) you provide them.
    Second, how annoyed am I at how fit and toned you are and how amazing you look at 38 weeks pregnant?? After 9 months of being afraid to MOVE, I'm an utter pile of cellulite and mushy flesh. I'm more than envious, my friend. Stink eye indeed! :-)
    And third...ugh. Father's Day. That lady's innocent and well-meant comment. How much other people's happiness and optimism on your behalf can STING and cut to the heart of you. Upon reading it I closed my eyes and cringed. So sorry, for both of you. No place is safe except maybe home with the TV turned off.
    I don't recall our first Father's Day without Anna either. Last year we had Emily, so this year is especially bittersweet for not having either of them. Maybe, next year. Maybe. I hope so, for all of us.

  12. I love LiL Mac. LOVE that she's such a bitch.. and ungrateful at that, so amazing such a little dog can have such a HUGE personality. :)

    I think all the dads got a little sting this year (not unlike last year) when there are babies in our arms or not. It all just continues to be a painful reminder of what should have been an amazing, wonderful, celebratory day.


    BTW, you're hot. That is all.

  13. Agree with everyone that you look great!

    And that your dog might be a pain, but is adorable.

    As for Father's Day... Ugh. Such a sad day for us - one week past our due date, so it hit quite hard. Only my mom called. My SIL who has a 9 month old kept posting things on Facebook about people celebrating their first Father's Day, but didn't bother to call my husband. Blech. Men handle things so different - and definitely reached a point where he also left the room when I would cry. I might send this to him to read!

  14. Agree with everyone that you look great!

    And that your dog might be a pain, but is adorable.

    As for Father's Day... Ugh. Such a sad day for us - one week past our due date, so it hit quite hard. Only my mom called. My SIL who has a 9 month old kept posting things on Facebook about people celebrating their first Father's Day, but didn't bother to call my husband. Blech. Men handle things so different - and definitely reached a point where he also left the room when I would cry. I might send this to him to read!

  15. First up, dude. You are the most gorgeous pregnant person ever! End of story.
    And this post, as with all of your posts, really spoke to me. Took me back to Simon's first two father's days. The first was just a couple of weeks after she died (we celebrate it in September) and the next I was heavily pregnant with Angus. I hated that his first two father's days were with empty arms. I felt so responsible for his sorrow on those days.

  16. Ugh, people should just MYOB. :p

    We spent Father's Day watching Tom Cruise pretending to be Axl Rose in "Rock of Ages" at the movies. He's really not half bad!!

    Little Mac just oozes attitude in those photos. ; ) And you look great!!