Yes, we have Mothers' Day. But there is quite a different parenting that goes with having a child pass away before you do. In a million ways, we still parent them. Their needs are not so immediate as those of our living children. But death ends a life, not a relationship, and we parent. We parent every time we remember. Every time we have flashbacks. Every time we wonder what things would have been like had they survived. Every time we feel that piece of our heart missing. Every time we visit graves or dust off urns on our shelves. Every time we try to help other families through their losses, work to spread awareness, endeavor to honor other babies gone too soon. Every time we try to live our lives more fully, live the lives that our children couldn't, we honor their legacies, we parent them in the only ways we know how. We find signs, or look for them, and pray to them, and represent them in family photographs and during major holidays with symbolism only a few people notice. We light candles. We bow heads. We hear lyrics that sound like messages straight from their souls to ours. We see pennies dropped, butterflies flying, and have moments of peace that must be heaven-sent.
It's never enough.
I think it's the most difficult parenting there is. I think it deserves its own day.
I've decided to make this holiday whatever I need it to be. Mostly it ends up being a day of quiet self-reflection, a day of extra mindfulness, a day of feeding my soul. A little pampering would be nice, because let's face it, grieving your child every day for the rest of your life is extremely exhausting. But pampering is rarely in the cards for me, and I can't complain, because I have living children with real needs and demands and I am blessed to have such responsibilities to them and to my household.
But this year? Womp womp.
Facebook was just extremely quiet. Another of my babylostmama buddies posted on her page about how shocked she was that no one was really talking about Bereaved Mothers' Day, how no one had tagged her in the posts that had been made, that she expected to see more on her feed. I immediately piped in on this post and agreed fully. Yet I was guilty as well. I had posted several images without tagging ANY of my loss friends. In the past, I always took the time to tag people. What's different? Was the event not as advertised? Was it confused or muddled because of an additional project underway? Are people so wrapped up in their busy lives that they can't take the time to sit and reflect and be mindful of the experiences of others?
I just don't know.
What I do know, is that I felt very alone on Bereaved Mothers' Day. I'm definitely in a "funk" or a "grief resurgence" right now that I can't quite explain other than to say I just miss my son. And that's never going to go away. Maybe that full realization is just too hard for me to process right now. But I could have really used some FB love from my babyloss peeps. Or at least from my husband. Or family. Something. This was the first year that I just felt forgotten.
As for others outside of the community? I still don't feel like society has any real idea about how very difficult it is to parent a child who passes away before you do. It's too taboo to discuss or try to imagine for those people who haven't filled these horrible shoes I walk in every day. So I guess at the end of the day I'm left feeling disappointed. Not at anyone in particular but in society in general.
Some people on FB were talking about how the "silence" surrounding the holiday simply showed that all of the people who were really involved with its creation and launch were moving FORWARD. That people this far out on the grief journey maybe didn't NEED the holiday.
See, I just don't think of it that way. I don't think of a holiday as something you sometimes need, sometimes don't. It's created for a reason. And maybe others don't need it, but I do. Maybe there is something wrong with me because I wanted to "mark" the day somehow with something special. But honestly, I don't think so, and I refuse to feel ashamed. So I guess I will simply start my own traditions for Bereaved Mothers' Day. I will make my special Elias time, where I take time to meditate, reflect, blog, whatever. And then I treat myself. To ice cream, to a pedicure, to a massage, to whatever it is that feeds my soul at that particular time. Because grief kicks the hell out of you. I don't care if it's been a month, a year, a decade. This is a life sentence of yearning. Bereaved mamas especially have endured far beyond what anyone should have to endure. And I'm not looking for a pity party. I'm simply stating that because this world has decided to clock us upside the head so very violently, we deserve to be gentle with ourselves. To care for ourselves. To indulge in whatever we need at that particular time. To try to balance the scales and make life without our loved one just a little more bearable than it was the day before.
Hoping all of you in the loss community had a gentle day on Sunday. Whether you hold all, some, or only one of your children in your hearts instead of your arms, you deserve a day of recognition. To those of you who have no surviving children, don't ever let society make you feel like you aren't a mother.
You are a beautiful mother.