I’ve recently thought of a way to describe a teeny tiny piece of the grief we deal with from child loss. It may make sense or it may sound totally bizarre. To be honest, it almost doesn’t make sense to me, while at the same time makes me say “YES! That’s it”.
Being a mom, you need alone time. We all know this. You need time to step away for a few minutes, know your child is being well taken care of (by your husband, family member, friend, trusted babysitter, whoever), and turn your mind off for a bit. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a needed thing.
I’m going to preface the rest of this post by saying that as moms (and dads) we are always going to have our kids on our minds. That goes without saying. The alone time I’m going to talk about (and the switching our minds off) is the necessary alone time that is needed to stay sane while raising a kid, while never actually forgetting you have a kid, duh (I hope this makes sense).
Let me continue.
Think about taking a trip to Target, by yourself. You can shop for what YOU want to shop for. You have no one else pulling you in different directions rushing you out of the store. Yes, you may glance through the kids section to see if anything catches your eye for your little one to purchase, but it’s because YOU want to and not because something caught a little ones eye and they “have to have it”. You will then continue on your way to look for a new purse you really don’t need, or a book you’ve heard is good (in the hopes of having additional alone time to actually read it).
Going to the nail salon. Yes! The best afternoon! Stop at Starbucks, grab yourself your favorite hot beverage, sit down and get pampered while sipping on your HOT (decaf, if you’re like me) white chocolate mocha, sure add the whip, and not having to reheat it twelve times throughout the day because you keep forgetting it’s there while you’re doing 67 other things. Your mind is officially switched off for the next 50 minutes and you can just be.
When you’ve lost a child, it’s like you can never go to Target by yourself, or get pampered while drinking your Starbucks. You can’t ever switch your mind to off.
You may try as best you can but it doesn’t happen. It’s like it CAN’T happen.
You ALWAYS have your mind switched on.
By this I mean, for example, your trip to Target. You walk in, alone, perusing the aisles. Taking some alone time to reset for a bit. And then you see the shirt that your little one who has passed away wore in that picture you love. You see the book about siblings and you are reminded, yet again, that your living child will never get to meet his brother. You see another mom out with her baby and remember all the trips you got to take with your little one to Target before he was too sick to leave the house, before he was attached to wires and machines for the rest of his life.
You go to the nail salon and think about the nail color you had on in your favorite picture of you two together. You are transported back to two days after his passing when you needed to get out of the house and why not get a manicure, and pray they did not ask how many children you have.
There is no off switch for grieving a child. There is no stepping away knowing your child is in good hands.
There just isn’t.
We are always shopping with one of our children with us. Always concerned about their well being to the Nth degree.
It is ALWAYS there. We are ALWAYS on.
And we wonder why grief is so exhausting?