Monday, February 11, 2019

Winter Drearies

I'm home with Coco today, who most likely has Influenza A, given that all her symptoms match up and her best friend from school was diagnosed with it on Saturday morning. Coco woke up with a fever on Sunday morning and spent most of yesterday napping and coughing in my bed. (We changed the sheets before bedtime.)

She is much perkier today, and is determined to make the most of her day at home by binging cartoons and drinking juice--both major treats.

I'm trying to do All The Things for work and domestic life, which has me answering e-mail and setting up online quizzes, adjusting due dates, grading exams, and making lesson plans in between doing load after load of laundry, throwing together stuffed shells in the crock pot, making macaroni & cheese for the sickie, and I've just about convinced myself to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for The Closer.

My big excursion today was a walk to the mailbox with Clementine, which just reinforced how miserable this weather and how much I need some exercise. Maybe I can convince myself to spend 10 minutes on the elliptical this afternoon? We'll see if she actually takes a nap today... She seems pretty well rested at the moment.

Unrelated to the flu, I have been going to a weekly anti-racism workshop (getting further involved in social justice movements in St. Louis was a new year's resolution, and this is one step in that direction). One of the things we did was write a personal narrative getting at why we care about issues of racism and social justice. It was an illuminating exercise. I realized that Eliza's death was a profound turning point in my life, not just because of the devastating grief, but also because it burst the illusion I had been comfortably living with: the idea that life is mostly a meritocracy. I mean, I knew that bad things happened to good people, but I really was invested in the notion that we can control most of what happens to us, as long as we work hard and try to be kind and, you know, have grit and determination and all that stuff.

When Eliza died, the rug was ripped out from under me, and I had a new understanding (belated, clearly, since I had spent all my life living a pretty privileged and sheltered existence) of all the circumstances outside my control. I've now come to believe that, because the universe can throw a curve ball at any moment, because there are no promises about life being fair or just, it is crucial that we make sure the systems and institutions that we can control are as fair and equitable as possible. So that has become something I'm really passionate about--particularly since in a city like mine, it's painfully obvious how unfair and inequitable things like education and housing can be.

One of the first things we did at the workshop was go around and introduce ourselves and say "who your people are." Relieved that I didn't have to go first, I listened and thought as we went around the circle. You know who my people are? I said, "Readers, writers, academics, parents of young kids, and especially bereaved parents." It felt really good to say that out loud. It made me think of the days I longed for an arm band to indicate that I was grieving--some kind of outward sign that said, "My baby died and I'm barely coping. Please be gentle with me." I don't feel that raw and vulnerable so much these days, but I still sometimes feel set apart from the non-bereaved parents--especially the idea of them as a group (like PTO moms). It really is a sorority nobody wants to pledge, but it's filled with some of the best people I know. And I just feel like life is easier if people know from the moment they meet me that bereaved parents are my people.

This month of February is so bleak. While last week was overly busy, this week is much less chaotic, especially since Coco will likely be sitting out of her Spanish and dance extracurriculars. I'm trying to appreciate the coziness of being home--lighting candles, doing yoga, listening to Brandi Carlisle nonstop.

And speaking of hygge, I'm off to make those cookies. Wash your hands and eat some cookies and let's have spring hurry up and get here.


  1. Yes, it really does feel good to claim "the bereaved parents club" as our own, as much as I thought at one time that that sounded super depressing. I'm just at such a different level of ease amongst "our people" than I am other (normal) parents, where I constantly feel on-edge and twitchy. Last week I sat through my first ever kindergarten orientation and basically sobbed through the whole thing (silently and discreetly... I hope!) for so many reasons. 1) I can't believe my eldest daughter missed out on all of this. 2) This shouldn't feel so scary and new, bc I should have done this once before already. 3) Ugh, omg, the PTO (and just parents in general) - it hit me in that moment what a good job I've done over the past 5 years of insulating myself from their world (and building a vibrant community of lovely bereaved parents instead) - I'm *so* dreading having to dip a toe into that water :-( So many feels. On a lighter note, enjoy those cookies!!

    1. I went to a PTO meeting and it was almost like a sitcom of a PTO meeting--all these well put together moms, out of twenty women in the room, literally all but two of them had three [living] children, I was like "Ohhhh... I maybe don't belong here..."

    2. Yes!! Why are they all dressed so nice?? It reminded me of that one time in college I tried a sorority rush event and showed up in sneakers and people were like "giggle, giggle, you're so goofy!" and I was just baffled, like, but why am I supposed to get all dolled up to hang out with a bunch of chicks...? Not my scene, clearly, lol.

  2. My personal feeling about parenting today is how much harder it is. Comparisons are odious, but with the glut of “in your face” social media and the information highway, we simply just don’t connect in person the same. The practical support has shifted. Younger mums don’t feel they can share their fears, hopes and aspirations for their kids without being judged. It makes me a little sad that my daughter in laws may well be more empowered financially, their stress and doubts seem amplified.

  3. Hey Brooke, haven't read in awhile and I missed the big news, so wanted to wish you a gentle congratulations on your pregnancy. And keep fighting the good fight!