“How many children do you have?” Or “Do you just have the two?” How do I feel like answering today? All of the thoughts and processing begin quietly and quickly inside my head and heart. Where are we? How well do I know you? What do I have the energy for? How will this make you feel? And sadly, and often lastly, how is this going to make me feel? What is my answer today?
We have all been here and continue to be. The most innocent and well intended question that sends my mind in a frenzy and my heart sinking into a pit of my stomach. I keep thinking that the more time that passes the easier this question will get, but it doesn’t seem to. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I don’t completely over process the question and quickly respond with a simple “two,” smile and walk away.
Then there are the days like last weekend, when I get totally thrown off by the question and the following “harmless” statements. I end up stewing on my answer for days. A most lovely and fellow school mate’s mother asked me, “so do you just have the two?” I responded with, “yes and you?” (Enter first uneasy feeling and internal conflict). We were in the middle of a fitness class and I felt like it wasn’t a comfortable time or place to get into the full truth. Then it continued. Again I stress this is not meant to shame, blame or direct any fault. I am positive she would have been devastated to know that it had hurt my feelings and perhaps she too may hide a similar experience. The next lines went something like “it’s funny how so many families at our school have three or four children (which she did). It seems like before the norm was two like you, but now the norm seems to be growing. Now you’re the anomaly.” I didn’t say much from here on, just nodded, smiled and got back to the action. Now I desperately wanted to pause time, walk over and explain that “actually I have 4 children, two living.” I didn’t though, so I spent the next few hours and a couple days processing it. When I got into my car I felt a little sad and disappointed in myself.
I am sharing this with you in full honesty that no matter how conscious, truthful and connected I try to stay to my story and truth, some days I just don’t or can’t. My guidance to myself and others is to do what suits you in the moment. There isn’t a right way or wrong and each situation is unique. Honouring our lives and our children that have passed is a special thing and shouldn’t be something that we are shamed into avoiding. For the most part, I feel the self pressure of not offending the other person or making them feel bad. The problem is I end up feeling bad sometimes and wish I would have shared the truth. I am also trying to be aware of when I chose not to talk about it, that I recognize when the guilt starts setting in and allow myself the decision without judgement. Still figuring this out. Happy for any suggestions you might have.
XO - Alanna