Tears in my closet

My soul longed for rest. A place a mommy can go to breakdown. A time that had been denied for probably years.

I found myself inside my walk-in closet, door shut, surrounded by old homeschool supplies, arts and crafts, books, toys and a plethora of things that have made their way inside over the past few months.  Clothes are few here in this closet. Stuff? Plenty of that there.  Something told me to go inside and rest. 

Wearing my jeans and lime green sweatshirt, I walked in with IPOD, journal, and pen in hand. I sat on the hardwood floor, threw a blanket over my legs, sat cross legged and began writing. Then, the tears started to flow. They covered my pages and made me skip a page just so the paper wouldn’t tear as I wrote.

I imagined what my heart needed. Comfort. Understanding. Unconditional Love. Reassurance. SomeOne to remind me that it’s ok to be broken and not have all the answers sometimes.

I laid down and sobbed until I could hardly breathe. I buried my face in my hands and cried into the blanket I was sitting near. Even when I thought I was done crying, the tears just kept falling silently down my cheeks. 

I cried for my patience that has been lost since I had my first miscarriage. 

I cried for my enthusiasm which has waned significantly with the wear and tear of grief.

I cried for my naive self who thought that if I just got pregnant again, it would all be fine.

I cried for my sweet Spirit Warrior who watched his mama coat her grief in anger and impatience.

I cried for my middle son. The one I didn’t hold long enough. The one I still feel like I let down in some way.

I cried that I don’t have a good memory of comfort from my family or friends during that time.

I cried that I shouldn’t be crying this many years later!

I cried that I was in judgement of myself, of my husband, and the way we dealt with our first miscarriage and then subsequent death of our stillborn son.

It all came back to me for healing. I asked my angels and spirit guides to join me in my closet. I pictured my head resting on my angel’s lap. Her hand gently wiping my forehead and reminding me to breathe.

Two hours passed.

The tears dried.

And I grasped onto the lifeline that I may have just thrown out to myself.

Rest.

The Red-Orange T-shirt.

My elliptical trainer is more than a piece of machinery to me. It’s my safe haven. My quiet place. My reminder that I am worth the effort. It has been on the receiving end of my meltdown tears countless times. I love and appreciate it like an old friend.  Sometimes I am in the pitch black with only the light of my phone to catch my eye. Other times I love to open the shutters and let in the beautiful light of day.

Tonight my elliptical kept me company as I wept. My children already asleep and my husband watching TV. I was busy. Keeping my baby’s memory close to my heart. Imprinting this new memory that came to me last night in a dream.

I dreamed of my stillborn baby boy. He was four years old and wearing a red-orange t-shirt and jeans that were dusty on the knees. He had brown, mussed up hair and deep blue eyes. He smelled like a little boy with a touch of sunshine. He was standing between my guardian angel and his guardian angel.  He grabbed onto her leg as though he was holding on to a tree and appeared a little shy.

He wanted to tell me something. He walked to me, I knelt down. He wrapped his arms around my neck and laid his head on my shoulder. He said, “Mommy, I love you. It’s all going to be ok.” I could feel the tears stream silently down my cheeks as I said, “I know honey. I love you so much.” 

He walked back to his place next to the angels. They stood in a circle around me. Each one letting me know that I can do this thing called Life. That I could find the strength I need. That they would lift me, support me, and love me. And that no matter how long it has been since his birth and death, he will always be part of me. Maybe the better part of me. 

Oh, and I’m totally going to go buy my boys the first red-orange T-shirt I find.

Ouch, that hurt. But thanks.

Ever have one of those days…you know which kind of day I’m talking about. The kind where you feel anxious, you are trying really hard not to lose it all day, the kind where you do what you are supposed to do and still it’s not working? You make a big effort to keep your head up, to minimize your discomforts, you open your heart to possibilities of change even though it’s painful, and yet there is no obvious sign of progress?  Yeah, one of those days.

As I sat with my discomforts of listening to my toddler cry it out at nap time because he was more than exhausted and yet fighting his nap, I tried to drown it out with my IPOD on the elliptical. But it was more than I could bear, so I gave in and picked Baby Zen up. He was standing in his crib and his voice shaky. ”Hi, Mama. Hi, Mama. Hi, Mama” was all he kept saying.

I felt my willpower giving in not only to my need for nap time routine, but to my quiet time need and I listened to my body. It was telling me, “it’s ok, babe. You’re just having a off day. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Maybe you can get a nap in later.” I picked up my baby and we played hide and seek instead.

As the day progressed, the Spirited Warrior came home from Kindergarten and never stopped talking. He was non-stop. I jumped into the shower and my heart and soul cried out for a time out. I told Hubs that I needed some chill time. Baby Zen was finally napping, so he took Spirited Warrior into the family room and played games with him while I crawled into my bed in the middle of the day and pulled the covers over my head. I laid there and slowly slipped into a little sleep, but woke quickly to the guilt! The guilt for resting!

The dinnertime routine was a mess and ended with me feeling disheveled and disorganized. I could barely sit for two bites without someone needing something from the other side of the kitchen or out of the fridge. 

I had the nagging feeling like I needed to drink a gallon of water or I wanted to bake chocolate chip cookies and end my sorrows there. I decided to be open to the nagging, empty, icky feeling and sit with it instead. 

Empty is better than injured. Open is better than shut down. Irritated was better than medicating with food. But open is vulnerable, irritated isn’t usually quiet, and empty, well…it’s longing for a hug or something to fill the space.

I told Hubs how I was feeling. He didn’t have anything to give. He didn’t want to “talk me off the ledge” and instead shared his perspective of the day. It wasn’t pretty.  It wasn’t flattering.  It wasn’t helpful…or so I thought.

Until I realized, I heard everything I was hoping to hear from him from my own Self. “It’s ok, babe. You’re just having an off day. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Maybe you can get a nap in later.”

It wasn’t a day where my husband was a good listener or supported me with a nice, long hug. But it was a day where I remembered I can be a good listener to me.

I didn’t want to have to tell her…

I picked up the phone to hear my co-worker say, “do you mind coming down here and talking to the mom that just lost her baby?” I sighed. It wasn’t what I had in mind for a Sunday morning.

I so badly wanted to say, NO. I just can’t do it. I’m too fragile, too tired, too frustrated, too desensitized and plus, I don’t want to chat with a new mom who is now welcomed onto our planet called Empty Arms, Broken Heart.

I took a deep breath and looked around desperately for an excuse as to why I couldn’t do it. There was nothing. Then she said, “could you just come talk to her, please?  Another deep breath. I nodded, then realized she couldn’t see my nod and I managed to say, “yeah, I’ll come down there as soon as I can.”   

I didn’t want to have to tell her that she should hold her baby now because she’ll never get the chance to again and one day she will regret not holding him more.

I didn’t want to tell her that she should know that someday it will all make sense, even though now it does not.  

I didn’t want to have to tell her that she should have an autopsy so her mind will be at ease many months down the line, even though now she can not imagine having his little body incised.  

I didn’t want to have to tell her that she might want a hundred pictures of him because tomorrow it will be all she has left.  

I didn’t want to have to tell her that in the next week when she goes to put her clothes on and they don’t fit because she is no longer pregnant, yet not into her regular clothes that she will burst into tears in her closet.

I didn’t want to have to tell her that she may want to tattoo her baby’s little handprints on her ribs where he once kicked and danced inside.  

I didn’t want to have to tell her that her husband may never understand.  

Or that her family will tell her it’s for the best.  

Or that the holidays will haunt her.  

I didn’t want to tell her that her insurance company may bill her for something they coded as an abortion, even though she labored and delivered a baby.

I didn’t want to tell her that she will never be the same.

That she will never look at a pregnant belly the same way again.

That her breath will be taken away when she hears the name she chose for her son, yelled on a playground.

I didn’t want to tell her, I was in her position almost 4 years ago and I still ache with empty arms and a broken heart.

My path. My cup.

Today I was reassured that I am on the right path.

I saw it.

I smelled it.

I heard it.

I felt it.

I saw it in the way my husband cuddled our fussy, teething baby Zen. It is clear I am not alone.

I smelled it when the crock pot chicken filled up the house with the aroma that dinner is already taken care of. I was reminded that I had extra time on my hands.

I heard it when I listened to several other children blurt out of turn in my son’s Kindergarten class. I realized my boy is learning to cooperate and wait his turn, but so are other children.

I felt it when I walked into the classroom and my son whispered as loud as he could, “Mommy! Hi, Mommy! I love you!” I felt my heart fill with patience and reassurance.

I had a day where my cup was filled to the brim. Not to overflowing, but it’s so nice to have something in my cup for the first time in awhile.

The Friendship Bracelet

The night before Kindergarten started I made my son a friendship bracelet.  A colorful rainbow of threads that held a small cardboard cutout of Yoda in the middle and attached it to his brand new backpack.  It sat in it’s new home, a wicker basket, just waiting for the morning.  The bracelet, made in an effort to tie the small child’s heart to mine and to decrease the anxiety I was feeling as my firstborn son was going off to school.

I looked forward to Kindergarten as a huge milestone that I could measure as a success of good parenting. We waited until he was almost 6 to put him in school, in an effort to be sure that his mind, body, and spirit were ready to embark on this new endeavor.  

This child, my Spirit Warrior, knows not a stranger. As a baby, strangers often would stop and speak to him, to us, and mention the beauty of his eyes and the “oldness” of his soul. He is cautious physically, but emotionally he’s vulnerable, loving, and open. I was comforted by these things as I tied the friendship bracelet onto his backpack.

I didn’t realize that when he went off to school that first day that my need for control was so fierce. I found that I missed him, but when he was coming home he was a different Spirited Warrior. A stronger Spirited Warrior. One that could no longer nap, even when remarkably exhausted. He was not interested in “mama time” and words like “I’m bored!” came out of his mouth. He stopped asking to do art projects at home and would ask for playdates instead. He became less into the magical thinking and needed to tell me when things were pretend or real.  He talked less and less about God and the angels, and even refused to say prayers at night.

Although I know most of this is expected and normal, the mama in me misses my sweet boy. The mama in me, misses having control over our daily activities. I miss him wanting to be with me. I miss him squealing for joy when he found out it was a “mommy day”. 

I am seeing now that this growing up part, this beginning of school, this changing of my son, is really a place for a mama to set her over-protective self to the side and breathe. It is a time that is ordained in every mother’s life to either let go a little more or panic and tie ropes or um…even a friendship bracelet around my boy. 

I didn’t cry the day he went off to Kindergarten. But I’ve cried quite a bit since that day, as I watch my little boy need me less and less, listen to me less and less. His Warrior Spirit tests my courage and patience, but I am realizing now that that is what he was brought here to do. Exactly that. And for that, I will continue to cry when my words fail and my heart is jumbled with not knowing what is normal for boys in kindergarten and what is worth correcting. I will try though, to remember that this is just a time for the mama to stop, breathe, let go a little more, and know this too, shall pass.

My Heart Explodes with Joy and Frustration and everything in between

I never thought I would start blogging.  I mean really, where do I find the time? But yesterday I realized I need to make time.  Just as I make time for exercise, sleep, play, and work.  I told myself it was time to start blogging or time to start an antidepressant.  So there, Prozac, you can suck it!

I am inspired by such great people who are bloggers. Those that share their hearts full of love, appreciation, frustration, depression, and grief.  I thank those of you who have given me permission to share. I will share. I promise.