Thursday, October 6, 2016

On Mothering a Rainbow Child

This post has been sludging around in my brain for the last few weeks, mostly in the hidden parts buried deep, but occasionally nudging itself to the surface where I think about it for a bit and then it disappears again into a dark hole. So today I'm pulling it out to write some thoughts down and see where it goes.

Now when I say rainbow child, I am referring to a living child born after a pregnancy loss or still born, etc. I am not referring to the other meaning of rainbow that floats around out there in the world and that makes me so sad to think about.

After Nicole was born and before Amber filled my arms, I had a lot of preconceived ideas about motherhood and none of them included exhaustion, feelings of being inadequate, feelings of being overwhelmed with toddler needs, loneliness and yet wanting some alone time etc. etc. etc. In fact, to my shame and embarrassment I would have looked with annoyance and frustration at any mom who would dare to complain about their child and their own exhaustion. My pious thoughts ran along the line of "Be grateful you have a living child" or "If I ever have a living child, I'll never complain about being a mom ever".

Oh dear. Then Amber came along and I loved her dearly, though I think some parts of me were almost apathetic for the first while. I think I could have almost held her at arms length sometimes wondering when the shoe was going to drop and she was going to be taken from us as well. I didn't do this consciously and yet there were times when I would wonder how much I would really miss her if she wasn't with us. This feels very vulnerable to admit. I don't wonder that anymore, because I recognize the huge, gaping, gnawing, empty, raw hole she would leave in my heart if she left us now. I have come to love her like crazy and am delighted to see her light up when she sees me. (And so Amber if you ever read this years from now, you should no without a shadow of a doubt that I love you like crazy.)

But that's jumping ahead of myself a bit. The first while after becoming a mom to Amber, I was delighted. Life was good. She was mostly a model child and I was loving being a mom. But as she's gotten older, she's gotten to be a lot more fun, but in many ways, a lot more work. She talks, a lot. Not that I can understand her, but she chatters away and can get her point across reasonably well. She now requires guidance and discipline if I don't want her to grow up to be a self-centered, lazy, controlling young lady. Yes, I say lazy at this age already. She has shown herself to be quite good at picking up toys and then some days will just outright refuse, so yes, I include work ethic even at this stage. Now believe me when I say her chores are very appropriately geared to her age level.

And this is exhausting and some days I get tired of being a mom. Somedays I just dump her on D when he comes home and am like, here it's your turn. Some days I just want to go out for coffee and read a book all by myself and just enjoy the luxury of being alone. And then there are days when I am lonely surrounded by a toddler and just longing for adult conversation. And when I stop and think about these things, I can start to feel very guilty. What am I thinking? Why am I daring to complain about being a mom when I finally have my living child in my arms? What happened to all my glorious resolutions of never complaining and always loving and cherishing my child? Why do I so easily forget?

And then I realize that I am human. I do love Amber and maybe I love Amber a little differently because of the little ones I have lost. I do still get tears in my eyes sometimes when I look at Amber and realize how completely blessed we are. There are times when I sit and hold her tighter when I think of her siblings that have left their holes in my heart. (Of course, that is a very short-lived squeeze because she is so not the cuddly type.)

But I also want you to hear that I do love being a mom. I do love having my little girl with me. Yesterday we went to town and spent some time at the library where Amber loved playing with the toys there. I looked into the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program and came home with visions of reading Amber all these books in the next 2.5 years. So yes, I love being a mom, but it's not always easy.

I don't know if any of this makes sense. I would love to hear from some of you in the same shoes that I am. To those of you who have not experienced a loss, don't feel bad for your feelings of frustration over motherhood. I have them now too and I understand much more. But I would kindly caution you to be careful when and where you express those feelings. Even if you don't mean it as complaining, a mom whose arms are empty is not going to understand your feelings. She might in time, but I do believe there are some ladies who are so in love with being a mom they never think to complain about it all. Oh that I could be more like that.

And to those friends who I have slighted with my pious attitude about never complaining, I do sincerely apologize.

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