We have five chairs at our dinner table. The sixth one is used as a desk chair in my bedroom. It has always been this way. Last week Adam noticed the empty chair. He was upset and said that somebody should be sitting there. He was adamant about it. He didn’t directly say Ruthie, he may not even have meant her, but Chris and I exchanged looks because he was right. Someone should be sitting there. And now that 5th chair feels sad to me. Or it feels like a direct statement. Or it is her being included at our table. Someone should be sitting there. Ruthie should be sitting there. Although in my heart of hearts, I don’t believe in “should”. I want her to be sitting there, but she isn’t. She won’t. She never will.
Then, yesterday we were on a bike ride and a dad cycling by had a babyseat on his bike. Adam said we needed a babyseat for Ruthie. I reminded him Ruthie wasn’t here and he said he knew that but that she needed a bike seat. Again, Chris and I exchanged looks. Of course she would have needed a bike seat. But she never got one. She never will.
Adam and Reid should have their sister. But they’ll never know her, not in the way they should. They will never meet her. They will always be “the boys”. I will always be a boy mom. But, not really. Because even though she isn’t here, she WAS here. She existed and she matters. I will always have a daughter. They will always have a sister.
Next weekend, on Mother’s Day, I will have two little boys stumble in my room to wake me, with handmade cards and sloppy hugs and kisses. It will be their day to celebrate me. But today, International Bereaved Mother’s Day is Ruthie Lou’s mothers day. It honors the motherhood that should be, the child I should be raising. It isn’t Hallmark approved, you won’t find cards for it in the grocery store, but it is a real thing-just as bereaved mother’s are REAL moms.
The chair that is empty, the bike seat that isn’t needed, the brothers who will never meet their sister-these moments exist over and over in our lifetime because Ruthie was not given life. But she was real and continues to be loved, missed, and included in our family of five forever. So today we acknowledge and honor the very real mothers of the very real children who are loved, missed and included forever.
It happens every year and every year the emotions are unexpected. But this year, I know what to expect because I am creating it. I have worked so hard to get settled, to accept me, to love me and this year I welcome today because today I alive.
Mother's Day is every day. Every day I wake up to my son living, my daughter dead, this baby growing. Every day I have a (step) mom who loves me and a mother who doesn't know me. And every day I am a mother, a daughter, a mother without her daughter and a daughter without her mother.
I no longer live in the what-it's or what could be. I am so happy for those that have great moms and all their babies, but that is not my life. We don't get to choose every path in our life, some are just thrown at us and the only and best thing to do is to allow these hard feeling losses to create the best life of what is left and I am doing just that.
Every day that I am alive, is a day that I am grateful to be me, it is not the life I would have chosen but living the life I have been given and making the best of me.
Today is a good day.
Today is marked as International Bereaved Mothers Day and I just don't identify with it. I am a mother. Period. The moment a woman decides they want to be a mom, the day she starts preparing her body to create another, she becomes a mom. When that baby is in her belly, she is a mom. When that baby is born, she is a mom. If that baby dies, she continues to be a mom. We are all different, special, unique mothers, some with our babies in our arms, some with our babies in our hearts and some with our babies in our hopes and dreams.
While I was pregnant with Ruthie Lou and even before either of my children were born, I wanted to be acknowledged on MOTHER'S Day, the day for moms. We are all already so diverse and unique in our journeys to become moms, what type of mothers we are and how we parent, that having an entire day to separate those who are bereaved the takes away from the inclusion that I want to feel on Mother's Day. I want to be acknowledged for all of my children on Mothers Day, I don't want to be made to feel different because one of my children died. It is already isolating enough to be a bereaved parent, I don't want to then also be highlighted for the fact that my child died when what I really want people to remember about Ruthie Lou is that she lived, that I am proud of her, the ultimately SHE made me a mom. She made my dreams come true, and although this is not what u ever would've wished for, I want her story to be one of love, not a sadness.
There was a time when the narrative in my head was that I was the mom whose baby died, I couldn't see beyond that pain. As time has progressed and I have worked and worked and worked my grief, that is no longer the story I live. I don't know anyone whose life has turned out exactly as they imagined it, without loss, without sadness, or grief. There will always be parts of our life that we wish were different, but I don't let that consume me, instead I let it create me. I am a mother, a wife, a teacher, an entrepreneur, a writer, an athlete, a lover of life and in all of those parts of me there are stories that I have lived, good and bad and I choose to learn from all of them.
I am a survivor. I live a full life. I am living the life I always wanted, even with this broken heart forever missing my child. I am living this life to the best of my ability because of my love for her, for my family, for myself.
As a mom whose child died, I already feel on the outside of those who can hug all their babies at night-I don't want a separate day acknowledging my child died, I want her celebrated each and every day because she lived. She is always included in our family every day, please remember include her in your well wishes to me next Sunday, on Mothers Day too.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.