Up all night

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I got an email recently that cut straight into my heart.  It was well-intended.  In fact, the email was pretty benign.  Let's say it was a professional exchange.  The email started by saying something like, "Sorry I didn't get back to you last night.  My spouse and I are trying to get sleep these days whenever we can"...that was followed by a smiley or winkie face or something similar.  We had exchanged several emails at this point.  Max and our loss was not brought up in any of the emails and frankly, I had no idea that this person had a baby.  It felt like someone had thrown acid in my face.  The writer meant nothing by it.  Maybe it was just his way of letting me know that he had had a baby.  The line, however, was pretty reminiscent of the kinds of emails I exchanged with other new parents in the months following Max's birth.  You know...the ones where we sympathize with each other about the "burdens" of being a new parent but we are secretly thrilled that we are part of this exciting and wonderful club?  I still like to pretend like I am part of that club from time to time and talk about my experience with Max in the context of a conversation with someone close - like I did with my step sister over the weekend - talking about Camille and remembering the early months with Max and how he slept (or didn't) and nursed and his general temperament.

Thing is, I am not part of this club anymore.  In fact, my membership was not only revoked, they actually cut up my card in front of my face and then put the remains of it through the shredder.  The person I was emailing with didn't really connect the dots on that one.  They are now in my former club but hadn't really given much thought about how it would make me feel when they flaunted their membership in my face.  It's possible that to the non-griever, I overreacted to a simple misunderstanding.  But it hurt - kind of like when someone didn't show up at Maxie's Benefit and said, "Sorry we didn't make it.  You know how hectic it can get at home with kids".  Yep, we know.  Would it not have been just as easy to say, "Sorry we didn't make it last night?"  Perhaps these people are trying to bond around the simple fact that I had once been in the club.  Like how I might connect (somewhat superficially) with someone who had gone to the same high school, or college or graduate school as me.  Of course, wouldn't that connection be a little "sour grapes" had I been thrown out of said institution in a grand and humiliating way?  Not to say I am not happy for the membership other people have in the club...its just that memories of the club hurt me and I am in a different club now...one in which we aren't afforded the luxury of that superficial kind of connecting.  I am in a club with no upside or silver lining.  I am in a club that I wish I could quit but to which I was given lifetime membership against my will.  I hate my club (even if I love some of its members).  And, even though I am about to get membership back into my original club, it will never quite feel the same as it did the first time around.

A blog reader made a really funny comment on yesterday's post about going "batsh*t" on a couple of women in a Starbucks who were complaining about being up all night with their babies.  The comment made me laugh (and somehow feel very supported).  It is true that I no longer have much tolerance for the complaints of parenthood.  None of it really seems like that big of a burden.  None of it actually was a burden.  More like a total privilege.  The most mundane of caretaking responsibilities were the things that I most enjoyed: baths, bedtime, bottles and meals, even diaper changing.  And when I get those horrible flashbacks, I usually force my brain to remember the sweet quiet times - like when Maxie and I were up in the middle of the night, whole house quiet, I nursing him, staring into each others eyes.  Up all night doesn't bring back memories of anything but love.  I'd give my whole life to have one more "up all night" with Max.  So, like I said to my email friend (which I should have just thought to myself) - "Be grateful for up all night."  Honestly, membership comes with privileges, right?

5 comments:

Lindsay said...

I had just read that comment before reading today's post and it made me laugh also. Thank you for having my girls back!! Love it!! I went off on some young boy who flirtingly told me, while buying a pack a cigarettes that smoking would kill me. After I handed him back his chewed ass, I felt like he may watch what he says to strangers!!

Becca said...

I think "be grateful for up all night," especially from somebody who has experienced a loss like yours, is a perfectly sweet and appropriate reply!

My mom lost her 6 month old baby brother when she was 12. She has always reminded me to be grateful for all the chaos that comes with having two toddlers. I agree with you - I love the parent club and I am hugely grateful to belong. That said, I don't think saying "I'm exhausted" or "I was up all night" necessarily implies ungratefulness. It's just true...there are challenges to being a parent. It's all in how people say it I guess? And of course I think you make a good point that such comments are probably never good ones to make to somebody who lost their child and would love to be tired from parenting.

Susan said...

You ain't going back to the old club - I don't think it is possible. We are different mothers now. I think you're probably more likely to be about to join my club - the mothers again club. It is much better here than where you are now. xx

jkbrumbaugh@gmail.com said...

I totally understand what you feel. In one of my post I wrote about how I didn't wish anyone to become part of this grieving painful club. I agree that we are different mothers now. I felt like I became part of the grieving club in an instant while remaining part of the other club. I feel very understood here. There is a reason for my many fears-or the constant breaking down. I can tell you the other club will never understand the depth of the pain that we live on because we are different mothers now. Always thinking of your beautiful family.

Maxie's Mommy said...

In response to Becca, because she is right! Of course there is nothing wrong with the complaints of parenthood. I suppose what I am trying to say is "pick your audience". My baby died. I am not going to "winkie" face back about the normal inconveniences of parenthood. Certainly, most everyone I know has other people who are regular members of my original club that they can look to commiserate with. I just am no longer the appropriate person. Also, sometimes it takes knowing someone like me to help folks see the forest through the trees. I have no forest or trees. I would take the trees for the forest no matter what their condition.

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