I used to think that was a load of baloney, of course you had nothing to do with your loved one’s demise. But then I birthed my four children, and I held two of them as they died. Clementine, she skipped from this world to the next in the blink of an eye and I had little time to think of where we went wrong as parents. My son Beckett was also home on hospice and all my attention rested on my family and getting through the holidays. Eight weeks after Minnie died, Beckett followed her home. It was an agonizing eight hours but we knew it was coming since the day prior. As I held him the sun set and everything around us darkened. I was unsure of every movement I made, was he comfortable? Did he know he was dying? Was he scared?
In the weeks and months after Beckett and Clementine died, the doubt crept in. Nothing and no one could reassure me that I had loved them enough. I began to joke about what a terrible mother I was, 50% of my kids croaked within two months of each other. I pushed us into movement; church, school, outings. Anything to keep us from being home, the place that I felt most defeated. Our house was supposed to be our safe haven, instead it echoed like a catacomb. The photos that hang on the walls are half-truths, two of those children don’t live here anymore. People ask how many kids I have and the words get stuck in my throat. How I have defined my existence for the last seven years, it was gone in a season.
After months of reading, and listening, practicing yoga, and attending grief groups and seminars, I finally realized why I was so stuck in my mourning. I had spent years defining myself by titles and job descriptions that would decay and wither. I am a mother of course, that will never change, but now when I introduce myself I use phrases that I alone can support: yogi, writer, reader, searcher, daughter of God. It took a while to dig in to find these things that define me, these words are not dependent on anyone else and at first that felt wrong to me. They are prideful and build me up, two things that women, especially mothers are told is selfish. I was floundering in my grief because I was taught to only serve those around me. The moment you enter marriage or motherhood, you must surrender to it completely and with that your sense of self is lost to the wind.
Before last year I was home to provide for my children, but now I am home because I choose to be. I love raising them, slowly and intentionally. I fill my day with schooling and laundry, but I also carve out time to read and pour myself into writing because one day Julia and Wilbur will not live in this home either. They will move out and on, as adults should do. I have heard the expression “parents should provide their children roots and wings”, but I believe it is the parents who need the roots more. Bringing up little ones is only meant to be for a season, they will be your babies forever but will you find your footing once they are gone?