Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Dad died?? But Mom! That's so unfair!"

“I tend to live in the past because most of my life is there.”

                     ---Herb Caen

I had a moment last night that just made me so damn sad. 

What started out as an innocent conversation with my children about the upcoming Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser turned into a very painful flashback.

My son (who is in first grade) asked me if I would give him $25 and sponsor him for the fundraiser.  I didn’t hesitate and said, “Of course!”

Then suddenly my oldest daughter (who is in 4th grade) asked me, “Why didn’t you sponsor me in first grade?  I wanted to bring in money and you never gave it to me.”

I was overcome with guilt.  Why didn’t I give her the money?

And then I realized.  When she was in first grade, my husband had just died.

There is no way to explain to anyone the pain and blurriness of loss until they’ve been through it.  That entire year is such a fog to me...the only moment I distinctly remember is when my parents came over, in the snow, to pick the kids up because I was so exhausted and shaking so bad I just about couldn’t function.

It’s impossible to explain to my 9-year-old daughter now what that year was like for me and how something as important to her as a fundraiser was not even on my radar.  At that point, I was doing what I could to remember to feed them and make sure they got to school.

I know that that’s a conversation we might have when she’s older and more able to understand.  That year, in that moment, I gave myself permission to do whatever I needed to do (as long as it didn’t hurt myself or my children) to get through each day. 

It’s funny how I forgave myself then, but that the “new me” feels terrible that I didn’t write her that check 3 years ago.

The tone of her voice last night was the typical “it’s not fair” tone and at that age...I completely understand why she feels that way.  She feels like it was favoritism when it was really just my inability to deal with life in general.  And because she’s the oldest and has the most memories...that time in our lives will seem the most unfair to her.

It wasn’t fair.  It wasn’t fair that her younger sister had to wait longer to get her diaper changed sometimes because I was the only parent to do it.  It wasn’t fair that my oldest daughter had big birthday parties from ages 1-5 and her brother and sister really didn’t have any for a couple of years because I just wasn’t equipped to deal with it.  It wasn’t fair that in an instant, I had to restart my life when my life was really just beginning.

The whole damn thing just wasn’t fair.

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© Catherine Tidd 2011


  1. And if one more person tells me "nobody said life was fair" I swear, I will kill them!!! For this reason, I am glad I didn't have kids!!!!

  2. It is not easy at all. I have to work to forgive myself for the fog of the first year and now the pain of the second. I am doing the best I can for my daughter and need to remember that. I don't know how you managed with 3!!

    Rachel Ide

  3. it will never be fair.. and we will always keep questioning that.. its funny, we never question the the fairness in the good things, why did i have an amazing husband, why am i blessed with beautiful children, why do i have great parents.... all i can say is that life is a journey, sometimes things r up and sometimes, they are not, but one thing is certain, that nothing will be how it is right now..have comfort in the fact that things change.. sometimes for worse and sometimes for better..
    i wish a comforting kinda day for all of us..