Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mary is a hover mom-parenting after a loss

Anyone who has ever buried their child knows that parenting after that is hard. After losing Caleb it felt like we were thrown onto Planet Your Baby Died, while everyone else still lived on Earth.  Trying to navigate this new planet is one thing, but trying to parent on it is even more difficult.

I have read two blogs recently that have made me turn my focus to parenting after a loss. One of the blogs talked about the frustration she has at never knowing what kind of parent she would have been. Because after the loss of your child, you change, your theories change, your personality changes, and well your parenting is forever altered. I share this same frustration and feel like our society rarely talks about the effects of loss on parenting. I wonder sometimes if I would be a better parent, one with more joy and energy had Caleb not died. Instead I fear that my parenthood is made up of so much worry.

And I know babyloss parents can relate. That is why I had so much gratitude for this post on Glow in the Woods blog. I go to this blog from time to time and appreciate the literary style of the writing done there. It is not Christian, but full of baby loss things and often I find comfort in knowing I am not alone. Kenny's post did just that. After losing his daughter at 38 weeks pregnant, he writes about the anxiety and fear that is his constant struggle every day, even now 5 years later. He put words to things in my heart that I could not articulate:

My daughter’s seven plus pounds are still etched into my arms. It’s been more than five years since we got to hold Roxy Jean for the first and last time, but the weight is still there. It’s not a thought on a shelf, but it is the shelf that all other thoughts sit on. Parents that have lost children know what I mean when I say that our lost child is the background music to every conversation. It is the silent “..and” at the end of every declaration, every sentence that Terra and I say to each other.   

“I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow (and Roxy is still dead)”
“I’m going to pick up Mason after school (and Roxy is still dead)”
“I can’t WAIT to go on vacation (and Roxy is still dead)”
These words are what I live every day. I loved the shelf analogy because I feel like its so true. Caleb's death is the shelf which all things in our life sit upon now. Later on in his entry he talked about the fear for his remaining family members:
Five years later and here we are in a house: Terra and I, Mason and Lila (and Roxy, who is still dead.) Four people walk around with five shadows. I have been somewhat concerned, at least once a day since Roxy died, that every member of my family is going to die in some random, horrific fashion. I dream of car crashes and cancer. The grief has become a moving target as the years go by, but the FEAR, when it’s turned on, is always the same. Every fever Lila has. Every time Mason wants to ride his bicycle in the road. The mountain of cold, glassy terror is there, and every day I have to move it to manage. 

Concerned once a day that every family member will die! Wow- thank you Kenny for making me feel less crazy. I also experience this daily. In my mind I have killed each of my family members over  hundreds of times since Caleb died. Cancer, car crashes, choking, drowning,freak accidents. They all come and go in a split second every time I see Nathan's number come up on my phone when I am not expecting it, every time he is late, every time Abigail is sick or I hear her cough while eating. Each time I turn on her baby monitor to see her sleeping I prep myself with "And she will be dead and then you will calmly go call 911." I honestly don't even realize I am doing it anymore, its just there.
And then in the comments section was a beautiful, honest comment from another mom who also put words to why I hover over Abigail:

Now that my living son is approaching his first birthday, we hear more and more from people that we need to leave him alone with others more frequently. He needs to learn independence. He needs to learn how to be with other people. He needs to become more comfortable with others' care. And couldn't we use some time to ourselves? I don't know how to explain to them that I'm not trying to spoil him. It's just that I can't stand the thought of someone else being the last face he sees before he dies. Because I just know that at some point he's going to die. I hope that fear that I carry with me every second of every day won't be realized. But in my experience, babies die. How can I just ignore that fact? I know it with every fiber of my being. I'm just waiting for it to happen to him like it did to his brother. And when it does, I need to be there.

I understand. I dont want to spoil her, or make her less independent. I just want to be there when she dies so she isn't alone. Ugh. 

And so the point of this post is not to show how crazy (normal) babyloss people are and how parenting after it is hard (well, ok that is some of the point, but not the main point). See, I kept wrestling with this and I was up in bed last night thinking about how much losing Caleb has effected my parenting. If it has made me a better parent or worse one. I wasn't getting anywhere, so I started to ponder Mary. Our Lady, the Mother of God, who has first hand experience with her child dying. And I thought of how she was effected in her parenting after watching Jesus die. When Jesus declared "Woman, behold your son,"(Jn 19:26) while on the cross, Mary became the Mother of all. Her parenting began in a BIG way after watching her son die.

As I sat with this thought, I began to cry. Because I realized that Mary is a hover mom too. That her parenting was effected after her son died. She is constantly with us, by our side, helping us get to Heaven because she can't help it. She fears that we will go to hell the way I fear Abigail will die. And she will stop at nothing to protect us and guide us to our Heavenly home. She is the ultimate Hover mom, staying around even when her children don't want her there or ignore her. She pours out her love for all and refuses to give up on even the worst sinners. She can't-she is their mom and because she has seen death- her love is that much more intense. It propels her to love her children even more, perhaps even in a "crazy" kind of way.

I am trying to take this thought and apply it my life. It brings me such comfort to know that Mary cannot leave me because she is such a hover mom over me. It also brings me peace to know that my love for Abigail is more intense because I have seen death. I do hover over her, I am attached to her in a way I don't think I would have been before, but I love her with an intensity that is fierce.

Thank you Mary, for being a hover mom over us. Thank you for showing me how to parent after a loss.

Mary, mother of God, pray for us!

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