I forgot her water bottle upstairs. I had it filled with cold water and everything. I was so prepared. Damn it. All the little details that will possibly get me to work only 5 minutes late for a change. But I forgot the Paw Patrol water bottle.
I forgot it upstairs of our two family house. As I was buckling her seatbelt, her little voice said “Mommy, do you have a drink in the car?”
Shit! “No, I don’t honey. I’m sorry. I forgot it. We’ll get a drink as soon as we get to school.”
And the irrational tears fell. Hers and then mine. I tried to calm her with “shhh’s” and “don’t cry’s” and then I raised my voice out of pure frustration and exhaustion.
And the look in her eyes changed because she never hears me raise my voice. She looked scared. And then my heart broke in a million pieces because for me a teary child is so much more. And I really wish it wasn’t.
I wished we lived in the garden apartments where there was always another mom or dad around when someone needed an extra hand or set of eyes. When our neighbor Tony forgot something in their apartment and he would catch me coming home with Noah in the parking lot. I’d stay at his car with an already buckled in Baby Franco and five year old Victoria while he sprinted back. It’s what we all did for each other. This is a beautiful apartment. Our landlord is wonderful. It’s quiet and safe. But there’s no one around to help.
So I stood at the car with a crying Miriam and a crying Mommy. And after I raised my voice and she looked stunned and cried harder, she did something interesting. She instinctively started to stroke my hand. The way I would stroke hers. She was upset and stunned. And apparently very thirsty. And yet she seemed to comfort me in this moment of buckling under the pressure of it all. She saw me cry too.
These moments of failure hit me like a ton of bricks. Whether they feel harder for me than other mothers who haven’t lost a child, I don’t know. But the avalanche of failures starts to rumble in my mind.
Forgot the water bottle…
Lost my temper with my sweet little girl…
Can’t get my shit together and out of the house in time. Ever…
I have a job that requires nights…
I’ve spread myself too thin amongst too many people and things and neglected the people I should be holding onto with everything I’ve got…
lost my son…
I lost my son…
I lost my son.
I pulled myself together at the car and said “Ok. Let’s go upstairs and get it super fast.”
We went back upstairs super fast …or as fast as you can be with a four year old.
“Here it is!” I yelled.
“There it is!” she yelled back.
And back down the stairs we went. She WAS really thirsty. We pointed out snowmen and candy cane decorations on our way to school, like we always do. She told me whether I should make a left or a right at each corner. It was like it all never happened. But I was reeling inside. Another day late for work. Another day late for school. Another day to feel shitty about something little like raising my voice for an unimportant reason. Another day to feel different. Heavier. Much heavier than the average mother. The average married couple. The average parents.
She is the epitome of lightness. With her blonde hair and blue eyes and rosy cheeks and silly voices she gives her toys and the dances she does and even the prat falls she takes in her socks on the slippery kitchen floor. She is pure joy and positivity. And I can’t get enough of her.
My friend Elana said something to me a few days before Miriam was born. It was a scheduled C-section so I knew I had four nights in the hospital coming. Elana told me “Do not feel like you need to keep that baby with you every second because of Noah. You need your rest. You send her back to the nursery whenever you need to. This is a lot to handle.”
That was an emotion that I wouldn’t expect someone who hadn’t lost a child to even recognize. Elana knew that was true even before I did. The anger and guilt offset by the gratitude. The nightmare balanced by this dream come true. I didn’t want to let her out of my sight once she was born. I was afraid she wouldn’t come back. But I did need those four nights to sleep the best I could.
Today got better as it went on. In fact, it even ended on a very positive note. Miriam and Daddy called me on their way home from school and Miriam squealed into the phone about the jigsaw puzzle Christmas gift she got from her teachers! She loves jig saw puzzles. I had three more hours until I was done at work. As happy as I am to hear her voice and know she’s had a good day, the feeling of desperation to get to her in the flesh is overwhelming and almost causes more tears to fall for a whole host of reasons. Some darker than I care to talk about.
I will forever be finding a new definition of normalcy when it comes to parenting. And I will hide my demons from her as best I can until she is old enough to understand them. And even then, I wish for Miriam a life of lightness. Because some days, the burden is just too heavy. And then you forget the water bottle and all hell breaks loose.