Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mourning What We Should Be Mourning Together

Yesterday I had to go to Babies R Us to find a gift for a friend of mine who very selflessly got pregnant so that she could prove to all of us who are the same age that we're still young and fertile (that's not really why she got pregnant, but that's how I choose to look at it.  So thank you, Tiffany).

My initial thought when I parked my car and started walking toward the door was, "Lord, I hope no one asks me when I'm due.  I'd hate to tell them nine years ago."

Luckily, that didn't happen.  I think it was because I was wearing my skinny yoga pants yesterday and not my fat ones.

Anyway, as many of you have probably experienced, I had one of those gut-check moments that I wasn't expecting when I walked in the door.  I hadn't thought about it beforehand, but it had been years since I had been inside that store.  And I immediately started having flashbacks.

As I walked the aisles that were instantly familiar, I couldn't help but think about thirteen years earlier when Brad and I were there together, armed with a list of suggested registry items for our own little bundle of joy.

"Seven strollers?" he said in disbelief.  "Who in the hell would buy seven strollers for one kid?" 

"Huh?" I said, bending over to look at the breast pump that looked like some sort of torture device, positive that there was no way I was hooking that contraption up to one of the most sensitive parts of my body.

"What's this bathtub thing?" he went on, looking at the list.  "Don't we just bathe it in the sink?"

"I don't know," I said, moving on to the breast pads that some delighted-looking woman on the package was putting into her bra.  "What are these for?"

Of course, in the end we ended up with all seven strollers, not because we registered for them but because we had to buy them ourselves which made us wish we had registered for them (yes, you do need an umbrella stroller, regular stroller, jogging stroller, eventually a double jogging stroller and an extra regular stroller to put in the other car).  And I ended up not only hooking myself up to the torture device, but also giving it a little hug the first night I had pumped enough milk to go out to Happy Hour with my friends (thereby needing the breast pads).

The point is that in that moment, I so wished that I could go home and tell Brad all about it and remember that time with him.

One of the hardest realizations about widowhood that I had early on had to do with the kids.  I was going through one of their baby albums (actually it must have been my oldest because the other two don't have one) and thought, "No one is going to have those memories of early parenting except me.  I don't have anyone to talk to about when each of them was born and say, 'Remember when...?' and they'll know what I'm talking about."

I don't feel that way every day, but it does still hit me every once in a while.  This time, it was the excitement of it all, expecting our first baby, and remembering what a special time that was.

Whether Brad is here or not (he's not, by the way), I'd still be mourning the passing of that time, when little fingers curled around one of yours and you knew how to hold that tiny person just right because they were yours.  The difference is that I wish he could be here to feel nostalgic with me - to feel a little sad that that time in our lives is gone.

This is wishful thinking, of course.  Not just because he's gone but because in reality if I'd come home and said wistfully, "Remember when...?" he would have probably answered with, "Remember diapers?  Remember a car that was so sticky we decided to sell it rather than clean it?  Remember our kid throwing his pacifier across a crowded restaurant and beaning someone in the head with it?"

He'd be right, of course.  The blessing and the curse of life is that time never stands still.  The kids are older and two out of three of them are too big for my lap.  I can no longer cuddle up with them and give them a bottle (well, I guess I could but that would be weird), but they all know how to cut their own meat, which is a plus.  Our time together is different, but the best part is that now I have kids who are old enough to appreciate new memories with me.  

And now I know to never take for granted the moment when one of them says, "Hey, Mom.  Remember when we...?" so we can share it together.

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