Celebrity Sunday

It's crazy to be kind of angry at celebrities, right?  I know it is.  But it almost feels easier than being angry at people in my real life.  So, on that note, there are a few who celebrities who I can hardly look at anymore.  My first mistake was to have ever been thinking of them as "role models" to begin with.  Celebrities are just people.  I know that.  I am not even really that interested in them.  I hardly pay attention to their gossip.  I am not a big reader of People, or Star, or whatever other celebrity magazines there are out there.  I can't watch more than a couple of minutes of Entertainment Tonight or Hollywood Access.  I honestly don't care what they are doing...unless it happens to mirror my life somehow.  (I am not sure how my lack of interest in celebrity gossip connects with all of my reality television watching but that is something for another day).

After Max was born, I loved watching any television show with babies.  I became obsessed with babies (because I was OBSESSED with my own baby).  There were very few shows with babies to watch - Teen Mom and Bethenny Frankel was about all I came up with.  (Of course, the irony now is that every show we turn on has baby in it.  Even Dexter has a baby in the season we got stuck on).  So, Bethenny Frankel.  Most people don't even know who she is.  It doesn't really matter actually.  She has a reality television show.  She had a baby that was the same age as Max when the season aired.  And, that baby was cute.  She was an older mom (like me), in a new marriage (like me), and juggling her career with a new baby (like me).  That is where the similarities ended.  She was much busier and put way more on her plate for starters.  I would watch her show and wonder how she was able to pull herself away from her baby to do social things.  With that much work, I would be spending every free minute I had with my baby.  But, ok, it's television....who knows how much time she was spending with that baby.  All I know is she looked real thin pretty soon after having that kid, her kid always looked really happy, I don't think she was nursing exclusively and she managed to start an enormous business and go on and train for Skating with the Stars (which I didn't watch but which they talked about a lot on her show).  I was overwhelmed all of the time by work, so much leftover baby weight, so much pumping, and not getting enough time with Max (I would sell my soul to have the "overwhelming" life back - it was wonderful.  I am glad that I recognized that at the time too, not just in retrospect).  There was no way I was going to be able to keep up with a celebrity...not that there was a competition, but I wanted to have a life in balance and I worked hard to try and achieve it.  And, I am pissed that she keeps having success after success and I can barely get out of bed in the morning.  She is expecting a second baby and my first baby died.  The only reason I watched her show was because of that baby.  I can't watch that kid get older while mine never will.  I don't think that I particularly like her anyway so, I have no problem saying goodbye to her.

The next person on my list is Tina Fey.  We read her book, Bossypants, for book club just a couple of months before Max stopped breathing.  I am going to have to make my peace with Tina Fey eventually though.  I love 30 Rock way too much.  I loved the Tina Fey in her book.  I loved when she talked about having to balance her demanding career with her job as a mother.  I knew that she probably spent way less time with her children than I could ever bear, but she made it sound doable.  She also spoke real candidly about the challenges of breastfeeding.  She spoke about the breastfeeding mothers who would try to make her feel bad about not being able to do it with her children.  I did not have an ideal breastfeeding situation.  It wasn't just that I had to pump at work.  That would have been manageable, but I spent most of my days driving around the city, meeting with people.  So, I would have to either try to get to meetings early and find a quiet spot on a side street nearby to pump or do it while I was driving, which was totally crazy.  There was one person in particular that kept trying to encourage me to keep breastfeeding and pumping and it was just wearing me so thin.  Of course, I now wonder all of the time if Max died simply because I introduced formula in his eighth month.  But, Tina Fey formula fed from the beginning (as do many, many mothers).  It was after reading her book that I went ahead and introduced formula.  I decided to give myself a break.  I thought I deserved just this one small break.  Max had a bottle of formula a day starting in his eighth month.  Perhaps to an outsider this all sounds crazy, but I can assure you.  I feel guilty about nearly every thing I did with Max.  Formula?  Daycare?  Sleep training?  Things so many other mothers do.  Everyone always says that you have to give yourself a break as a mother.  I feel like I was punished for being "selfish"...for giving myself those breaks (but, believe me, if I could have avoided daycare and been a stay at home mom, I would have been.  That was not an option so I am not sure I should call it a break).  I guess I don't deserve the same things other mothers do (like the joy that would have come from experiencing a full life with my baby).  Coming to grips with the hand we've been dealt is not happening yet.  I am still trying to figure out what exactly I am being punished for.

There are all of these men celebrities that have lost young children that seem to have been able to go on afterwards - Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Lamar Odom.  Safe to say that their lives are so much more stressful than mine.  If they survived the deaths of their children - I can too.  (Yes, I may be an idiot, but honestly, I am looking for examples of people who have survived this because most of the time I honestly don't feel like I will).  But, what about their girlfriends (because I honestly don't think any of them were married to the women who mothered the children that died)?  None of these men were even in the same cities as their children that died as far as I know.  Maybe they did figure out ways to move forward...but, did the women?  Can you just pour your heart out into a song like "Tears in Heaven" and then be all worked out emotionally?  Because I pour my heart out every single day and I still want to die.  I couldn't care less about the Kardashians but I am seriously fascinated with Lamar Odom just because his 6 month old died of SIDS.  He is handsome, loving, attached, and feels deeply (as far as I can tell).  In the episode I watched last week, he "electric slid" around his living room to the music on his ipad with a big goofy grin in one scene and in another scene, he admitted to being incredibly depressed about recent deaths that brought up so many feelings of grief around losing his son six years ago.  Will I someday be able to have that duality?  Will I ever dance again?  Will I be able to genuinely smile and crack jokes and still know that this happened?  That Max lost his life and left mine totally incomplete?  I don't want to be set up for an impossibility.

Look, you compare your body to the bodies of popular actresses...I know you do.  You want to get your haircut like some of them.  You want to go on the diets they are on and do the workouts they do.  You wonder where they shop.  You wonder where they lunch.  If you are a mom, you might wonder if they breastfeed, or what they feed their children.  I am watching them too...but, I wonder how they grieve.  Instead of watching Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston - I am watching the Kennedys, Jennifer Hudson, Lamar Odom, Kelly Preston and John Travolta (and not because I care about what he does with various male massage therapists but because I wonder how he has integrated the loss of his son, Jett, into his current life...maybe the current drama in his life is an acting out of that despair?  Who the hell knows?).  When you look at Joe Biden and see a man who often puts his foot in his mouth, I see a man who lost his wife and baby daughter and still managed to become Vice President of the United States.  And I resent the celebrities who had babies when I did and don't have to grieve (do my feelings HAVE to make sense?  Because they don't).  There are just very few unlucky people on this earth that are forced to grieve for the loss of their children.  I am drawn to the ones who have to do this.  It's the same reason I read blogs.  I might find the blog of someone who seems to have found a way to have made a life without their child that is satisfying, and I read to assure myself that it can be done.  I have found blogs of other parents who feel just like me - this has been important for me since there is nobody in my real life who really mirrors what I am feeling.  Ted's grief isn't just like mine.  It is different in so many ways.  When I am angry or depressed or longing for my child, I take comfort in the knowledge that so many other parents feel angry, hurt, depressed, lost....these are normal reactions to extreme loss and complicated grief.

So, Tina Fey....I can't hate her forever for being a regular person who is getting away with having it all, right?  As long as she keeps making me laugh, I guess I forgive her....just like I will have to forgive everyone I know who gets to "have it all" without even knowing that they do.  I have to keep in mind that for nine and a half months, I had it all too.


Fiona said...

I totally get what you mean about celebrities. I got pretty obsessed by celebrities who had lost a child because I wanted to see someone who had gotten on with their life and "survived"
Eric Clapton's son Conor was one of the stories I was so interested in and I read this article with his ex girlfriend where she says she has healed (to an extent) http://www.eric-clapton.co.uk/interviewsandarticles/loryinterview.htm

I follow the blog of a lady who is most definitely a survivor. She says that five years on, she isn't "better" but that she's happy again. Amazing to think of and I hope we all get there too. In the meantime I'm sending you all lots of love.x

jkbrumbaugh@gmail.com said...

Interesting. We had dinner today with a family- the mom loss her daughter 14 hrs years ago. Her daughter was 14 never woke up the next day. She said to me you are going through the worse pain you could ever go through but it gets easier. It will never be the same but you will learn to live again. And the pain would not be so intense. Her other daughter loss a baby to SIDS in the fall of 2010. And now has a new baby and she said to us that her pain did not decrease intensity until her new baby was born. Its natural to fill your arms. Today she smiled and play. I wonder will I ever smiled like that. Every pain is different, but we will get there.

Susan Ireland said...

When feeling outraged at other's happiness, I also find the thought that "we had that perfect life too" comforting. So, on the day that Catherine and I were having a ball, rushing round the Edinburgh Festival choosing shows to see, another child was almost certainly losing their fight with cancer... no one knows what is around the corner. I think that helps me be pleased for the joy in the world, and feel less resentful of it. It is better to live in a world full of possibility and happiness. And the more joy there is, and the less pain, the better the odds that you'll get some more of it yourself too.

I have NO idea who most of these people you mention are, except John Travolta and Eric Clapton. We don't really watch tv, and I don't read the celeb news. DH is worse than me. I remember friends coming over and spending an evening doing... and don't you know.. x y, z etc. They were in shock as he'd never heard of Brad Pitt, Michelle Pffiefer etc. But, I totally get that feeling of looking around at others who have been so fortunate, and not being able to figure out just why it happened to us, not them.

I think the answer is - it just did.

Please don't get hung up on the formula. I know you will. I also know it is futile to tell you that - but I am saying it anyway. I wrote this awhile ago - about the what-if moment - I think we all have them. http://susansobspot.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/sos-save-our-survivor.html Not sure if it will help, but feel free to take a look/

I have "famous" bereaved parents too. I suppose If you think about it, losing children used to be the common experience. The 2 I usually mention are: Oliver Cromwell (a formidable English military and political leader, who was the only man to throw over the British monarchy and rule as Lord Protector in this millenia). The official line of biographers and historians is that his death was hastened by the death of his favourite daughter - despite his huge achievements in battle and politics, losing his child literally killed him.

My other example is Charles Darwin - the botanist, responsible for the theory of evolution. The Darwins had 10 children, of whom 3 died - a baby girl at 3 weeks, a boy at 18 months, and a daughter, who died aged 10. The death of his 10 year old is reputedly to have devastated Darwin - however 8 years after her death, he published the Origin of Species - one of the most profoundly influential books of all time.

I like these two examples. This is what I take from them. Even great people struggle when their children die. Sometimes they don't recover. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they do better than recover - they go on to do amazing things. Personally, I am aiming to be like Darwin. I hope my life is going to be amazing. However, I am already doing better than Cromwell (he died a few weeks after his daughter).

Big hug to you - your loss is so new. And being pg after your child is died is so, so hard. You are doing brilliant. Keep going xx

Tiffany said...

i have somewhat jumped off the media bandwagon. i stopped watching reality shows (and pretty much all shows with babies). we eventually got rid of our tv service all together. i stopped reading the news. it was just too many reminders of all the babies that would get to live while mine had to die. i couldn't do it. and oddly enough it brings me some comfort to know that celebs face devastation too (i hope that doesn't sound terrible).

you are not the only one that wonders. Julius was exclusively breastfed (he would NOT take a bottle), and i wonder all the time if that had some role in what happened.

Tamar said...

Susan, I love this comment. Thank you for your eloquence and wisdom! Abby, thinking of you and hoping today is better than yesterday. xo