If I am ever lucky/blessed/stupid enough to try this pregnancy thing again please remind me that no matter how helpful I think certain family members may be prior to the pregnancy--I am wrong. Very wrong. I'm writing it in stone here: any future pregnancies will be far away from all "helpful" family members.
Now then. Where was I? Oh yes...silver linings. After one of those Mondays that gives Monday its bad name, I am ready to settle in for the night and move on to Tuesday. This post could easily turn into an itemized rant about the things that got to me today, but that's not the way I want it to go.
I complain on here a lot about people who take their blessings for granted. Their fertility, their well-behaved uteri (apparently that's the plural form of uterus, folks), their take-home babies. I rant about this kind of thing here because this is my place to let it all out, my soundproof room to scream in, cry my eyes out in. It's so strange to me that this blog is not actually a physical space because in my mind it is.
I let a lot of things out here that I would never never let out anywhere else. That's a big part of the reason why I don't invite my family members or friends to read here. Very few people in my day to day life know this place exists. I hope to keep it that way. I would love to post more pictures of my little family, but I know that I risk being recognized by someone, somewhere.
And so I feel safe enough here to discuss the strange form of gratitude I have on my mind tonight.
I am not perfect. I am so far from perfect that sometimes at the end of the day I don't know if I would even qualify as a decent human being. There are days when I feel like I am failing as a mother, wife, friend, daughter, and sister. There are moments when I have wondered if my family might be better off without me. I can't seem to get anything right and my entire future seems like it might just be a never-ending exercise in futility.
The women in my family suffer from severe depression and anxiety. It is a very obvious and traceable pattern. If any of my family members ever read this, I am positive they would not disagree. I do not know about my maternal great grandmother, but my mother and her mother have it bad. They are different in the form and presentations, but they both have it. These are two of my favorite people in the world, but also two of the most difficult people to deal with. This subject really deserves its own post so I'll try to keep it to the point for tonight. Let's just say that as the years have gone by my mother, in particular, has gotten much worse and I've been forced to examine the similar traits in myself.
Wouldn't you know it? I have some depression and anxiety myself. Instead of trying to deny it or medicate the shit out of it as I've observed those before me doing, I try to acknowledge it and work through it. I don't want to be paralyzed by it. I don't want to pretend it isn't there and let it fester. I find that most of my tactics for dealing with the grief of Matthew's death are useful in dealing with depression and anxiety as well. In fact, I often find grief to be indistinguishable from depression and anxiety. I am anxious because I know grief. I am depressed because I know grief. Fortunately, I usually find that if I just ride out the Winter, Spring will come along. I may not always be able to "ride it out" but it's what I've been dong so far that works.
My grandmother has been making comments lately about how "lucky" I am to have my family "supporting" me through this. She says my life is such an adventure. She adores Roo to an extreme level. Since I am stranded in the city that she also coincidentally lives in, she is frustrated that I don't stop by and visit every day. I have been coming by once or twice a week, and she continuously tries to get me to let her and Grandpa have Roo for a few hours. She is a wonderful grandma, and a wonderful great grandmother. She is also a bit manipulative, and her moods can vary wildly from minute to minute. She calls me constantly.
Side story: when Matthew was in the NICU, she would show up at the locked doors at odd times of the day with no visitor's pass and basically swindle the nurses into letting her in. She wasn't supposed to get in. But she seemed to get in every time. When we thought this little guy would be coming at 30 weeks, I made sure to spread the word that because Roo wouldn't be allowed in to see her little brother, NO ONE was going to see him until she did. When my grandmother heard this she looked at me and said, "Well, I got in to see Matthew, didn't I?" Yep.
My first instinct when she made the comment about how "lucky" I am to have such "supportive" people in my life was to say something pretty sarcastic and rude. Seriously?! If this is "supportive" please take it back. I'm not into it. And don't even get me started on how "lucky" I am. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that she recognizes something about the way Jerry and I live our lives. You see, my grandma spent much of her own children's childhoods grappling with substance abuse issues as well as emotional issues. My mother loves to tell me all about the kind of childhood she had, and my grandmother and I have sat and talked over lunch many times about some of the regrets she has had throughout her life. I know there are many aspects of her childrens' lives that she wishes she could go back and redo.
And then something strange hit me. I don't live my life that way. At all. When Roo was small, we were really really poor. Maybe it wasn't the Dave Ramsay way of doing things, but I would often spend way too much on adorable baby clothes and gear. I figured that you never know if you will get the chance to spoil a baby girl like that again. I might never have another baby, let alone another baby girl. I soaked it up. Every night I tuck my little girl into bed and I say to her, "Thanks for being my little girl." I say other crap too, but the point is I do have gratitude. I don't miss a bedtime because little girl bedtimes don't last forever. I do know I am blessed or lucky or whatever you want to call it. I don't think Matthew's death made me an amazing parent, but it did make me a grateful one. There is not a day that goes by that I don't thank God for the daughter I have, the son He is watching over for me, and the son I am looking forward to having very soon (the one hiccuping away in my belly right now). I fight very hard through the day-to-day toils and troubles to make sure that I am mindful of each day and present in the moment. It's not a perfect system, but I know for a fact I kick most parents' asses at it.
Someday, when my children are all grown, I do not expect to look back with regrets over missing the whole show. I expect to feel sad that it all went by so fast, and I'm sure there are parenting mistakes that I will regret. The path I have had to walk has not been an easy one, but if there ever could be a silver lining to Matthew's death, I'm sure this is it. It's strange to me because I have spent an extensive amount of time in my adult life examining these two women in the hopes that understanding their illnesses would help me to avoid the pitfalls. Then suddenly I find that in this aspect, at least, I can't be touched. My pain protects me, keeps me conscious of the flow of life in front of me. Silver linings, my friends.