Parenting

My daughter’s process

Posted on July 28, 2017. Filed under: Family, grief, Parenting | Tags: |

My charming, delightful 4 year old is processing her father’s death in very normal and healthy ways. I think.

Mama, will we get a new Dada? Can’t you just buy one?

No, honey. That’s illegal.

But who’s going to shave and make popcorn?

I can do those things, kiddo! But yeah, Dada was the BEST shaver and popcorn maker ever, huh?

I follow you around the house because I don’t want you to die and suddenly I’m in a house of ghosts.

Ghosts can be cool, so if you see one, let me know because I’d like to meet it. But you can certainly follow me around anytime. You’re my mini-me!

I’m sad because Dada’s spirit hasn’t visited me yet, like Moana’s grandma visited her.

Sometimes their visits are just a feeling. Does anything remind you of Dada? Guess what – he’s there when you think of him. It’s MAGIC!

Mama I’m afraid of the dark because of ghosts and monsters. But I can defeat the monsters. Will you take care of any ghosts?

I’ve got your back, kiddo.

Kids are so cool.

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Conditional support

Posted on July 21, 2017. Filed under: Family, grief, Parenting | Tags: , , , |

One thing I’m learning in the aftermath of my husband’s death and navigating this new life of single motherhood is that friends’ and family members’ grand declarations of, “I’m there for you,” is TOTALLY conditional.

I’m there for you…

  • If I don’t already have plans
  • As long as it’s the same way I’ve already been there for you in the past (this is a big one, it turns out)
  • If you pay me to babysit
  • When I suggest/ offer the interaction in question, like dinner out at a restaurant or something starting at 7pm (but I decline when you make the suggestion, like an hour at the park in the afternoon or just hanging out in our backyard)

Each and every one of these conditions has come up for me. It is beyond painful because it expands the feeling of aloneness that I already have because my husband/ partner/ lover/ roommate is dead.

It is embarrassing, too. It takes a lot of courage to reach out for help. I have no problem doing it, since you never know unless you ask, and especially after my husband’s death, I needed a lot of help, and I asked all over the damn place. It still doesn’t mean that asking is easy. So when I go to the people who most emphatically told me that they’re here for us, it’s because I really need it. I’m not going to abuse your offer. I’m not asking in the same way your other friend down the street might ask you to check on their cat while you’re on vacation.

Actually, that might be a good reference point. If you would decline someone who asked you to watch their pet, don’t tell me you’re there for me and my kid, whatever I might need. (And especially don’t add at the end, “And I really mean it!”) I would have been 100% fine with, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Leave it at that.

And whatever, I get it. This is really on me. I misinterpreted the offers of support to mean that these people are willing to have their lives disrupted, when that is absolutely NOT the case at all. My bad. The healthy way to look at this is (1) they are perfectly within their rights to do whatever they want, they do not actually have any obligation to me or my daughter, and (2) disappointment and hurt is what I feel, but I can choose to have different thoughts and feelings about these rejections.

BUT. In case it would ever help anyone reconsider what they tell someone after a tragedy, or how they respond to a single mom who just asked you for something, then this post. I’m going to have to work on the other stuff about resetting my expectations and managing my other emotions on my own.

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I’m alive

Posted on April 25, 2017. Filed under: grief, Parenting | Tags: , |

Husband’s funeral is over. I survived it. Waking up the next day was a good feeling. He might be dead, but I’m ALIVE. My daughter and I, we’re going to try moving onward (somehow). 

I gained another pound this week. (I’ve lost 25 pounds in the last year, but I fear I’m gaining it all back.) I’m going to try to slow/stop the backpedaling. Today, I went back to tracking my food. I’m drinking water. I did some reps on the resistance bands. Just one day at a time of self care, so my little daughter can see how it’s done. 

I have intense, incredible, immutable sadness, but I can’t just throw away my own life because I feel sad. 

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Self recrimination > helplessness

Posted on April 6, 2017. Filed under: Family, Parenting, Suicide | Tags: , , |

I feel guilt sometimes – did I do enough to keep my husband around? Especially in the last 24 hours of his life. I could have called him, reached out to his friends and family more, forced him to communicate more, said all the things I thought of since then.

But then I learned that guilt – a result of feeling that you actually had the power to do something but didn’t – is *easier* than helplessness – a result of knowing that ultimately, you don’t really have the power to guarantee the health, safety, and life of the people you love most. Allowing ourselves to open up to our own helplessness – that scariest of all things – is supposed to help with the grief.

This concept of helplessness is most uncomfortable when I think of my young daughter. That I can do my very best – that I can even do all the very exact, right things – and still harm can come to her despite my best efforts. What a frightening thought.

 

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Milestones

Posted on March 27, 2017. Filed under: Family, Parenting | Tags: |

Here I am, in the aftermath of my husband’s death, concerned about how painful the upcoming milestones will be – my daughter’s birthday, his birthday, Father’s Day – and then today, my daughter alerted me for the first time before the fact that she needed to use the potty. And she did – not a false alarm! I was so happy! We jumped around and danced and celebrated and high-fived all over the place.

I will need to learn to look forward to positive milestones, growth milestones, rather than just focusing with dread at milestones I’m scared of or worried about.

 

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