I love pictures.
Before children I didn’t take many pictures and now, I take thousands, sometimes daily. The amount of backing up and keeping those pictures safe is quite elaborate! Outside of the normal parental obsession with capturing all of the amazing moments of each of my boys, there is now also the added fear that my children will forget that I was here.
Morbid? Yes, probably. But that’s where I am right now. The recent progression, albeit mild, and the rocky adjustment to the new meds has brought up a lot of emotions that felt dealt with beforehand. Guess not.
PTSD? Definitely. I think all of us in the family experienced it in some form or another as the routine we’d gotten used to has been upended, yet again. I’ve never been more thankful that my boys are young and won’t remember most of this stuff or get anxious about the circumstances we find ourselves in as a family. They respond to the feelings in the air, most definitely, but they are able to release it and move on to something else, sometimes within seconds.
And then that, the very real acknowledgement that my boys are young and won’t remember parts of my life with them, plunges me again into dread and grieving.
How does one live while dying? Sometimes, when the side effucks are bad and I get into a dark space, I think it would be better for the end to come sooner. I see my precious boys every day and I wonder, would it be better for them to have no mama rather than a sick mama?
And then I get a sticky kiss or a sloppy hug or my littlest literally head butts me in his fervor to show me how much he loves me and I remember, being present with them is what they need. I can be present while lying in bed and we can do a lot there, talking, reading, cuddling. That’s a lot of presence that I can do even when I’m running to the bathroom every few minutes. And, let’s face it, they come with me there too.
I think back to when I worked a lot. How I made time for the boys. How we made the most of the time that I carved out for them. How I struggled with the fact that I wasn’t home with them, that I missed out on so much. Despite being raised in a home where my mom stayed home and my dad worked, I never thought I wanted to stay home. Yes, I struggled with harmonizing the amount of work I needed to do with responsibilities at home, but when Monday came and I headed to the office, I was grateful for the adult company and conversation. Breastfeeding and pumping was one of the ways that I assuaged the mommy guilt and I am confident that I gave them the best I could, most of the time. I read a quote from a poem by Kahlil Gibran recently. He said, ‘Work is love made visible.” I know that I did that, I made my love visible, tangible.
I think, as parents, the struggle and self doubt that comes along with wanting to do a good job is always present. There is always someone who looks like they are doing a better job, doing something different, doing more.
But we can’t ever know the whole story. No one has everything together all of the time, even if it looks like it from the outside.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to help with school picture day at my kiddos’ elementary school. We had an amazing team of volunteers who handled the chaos of taking nearly 600 school pictures in about 2.5 hours. It was a marathon and I’m paying for that amount of activity today. I volunteer and help at the boys’ school mostly to be able to see them throughout the day, to get to know the teachers and to be a part of what they experience.
It was exactly what I needed.