Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You'd never know it to look at me

For some reason most of the time we only have half the curtains open in our bedroom. Other than being pathologically lazy, I really have no explanation for this odd phenomenon. I always throw open the right hand side - where the open part of the window is - to make sure that air can properly circulate through the room (I'm a little pathological about the need for constant fresh air too, so much so that once I woke up in the middle of the night to find it snowing a little inside our bedroom). But since the left side of the window has no air-based function, I don't bother uncovering it. There's not all that much to see back there, especially now that the angel garden has started to die back.

Anyway, I was feeling a little irritable this afternoon for no particular reason and decided to throw back the left side of the bedroom curtains for a little extra light and cheer.

Which is when I saw the two moms with their tots. Our sightlines through the bedroom window include a peek between the two houses behind us and onto the street they front on. It's chock full of babies and toddlers, much like our street. The two moms were playing with their babies on the lawn - the tiny little snatch of lawn I could see between the houses. I suppose they bumped into each other and just got talking.

It got me thinking about the way you're approached, or not approached as the case may be, when you don't have kids in tow. When I'm walking or shopping, be it alone or with My Beloved, no one with a stroller stops to talk. They smile and pass right by. I'm childless - I clearly have nothing to talk about. But people with babies do. They have endless things to discuss - war stories to tell, hints and tips to swap, sweet ramblings about baby smiles and first steps. And they can talk for hours without even knowing each other's names. Because they have babies in common.

I, on the other hand, have a terrifying birth story that ends very, very badly. And who the hell wants to talk about that?

I have of course told my story (to two hairdressers, the next door neighbours we don't know all that well and my dental hygienist - twice) but telling the same horror story to each new person who somehow manages to ask that one question for which there is no answer but the sad truth is no fun at all. It doesn't bring any joy - to any of us.

It just serves to remind me that I'm standing on the outside looking in and have lost more in three years than many people lose in a lifetime.

I want to stop the ladies with strollers and tell them that if the world was right and the gods fair, I'd have a little boy with me too. I want to tell them that I'm not childless by choice, that I didn't opt to have a career instead of a family and that I love my three lost little souls so much I can barely breathe sometimes - so much that sometimes it feels like I'm going to implode from the combined force of the contained grief, anger and longing.

But instead we pass by, me with a strained, plastic smile on my face and them never knowing how much we almost had in common.

I realize that there's nothing I can do to remedy this. I know this is just the way it is. The mothers who don't know me will continue to talk amongst themselves and I'll continue to pass them by. The parents in the park by our house will continue to acknowledge My Beloved and I with a quick, polite smile at best. Because why would they do anything else? Why would we if we were in their shoes instead of our own?

It's not their fault and it's not ours. It just is what it is.

And I will never get used to it, this business of being an invisible mom. Never.


Ann said...

I share your invisible mom pain so terribly and truly that I'm finally posting after months of lurking on your blog (identifying with most everything you write.) I just wanted to tell you how much your writing has helped me and how much I really do understand. I'm so sorry about Thomas and your other babies.
I also have three very loved lost souls - one a full term stillbirth, our dear son Henry, the second a tragic late termination, and the third a very sad second trimester miscarriage.
We live directly across the street from a toddler playground which is filled every afternoon with babies of every size and description. Some afternoons as I walk by with our huge mutt of a dog, I can smile vaguely at the few people I know. Other times, I can hardly stand upright I feel so stabbed with loss and aloneness. It is an awful story to share. And often ends up making me feel as if I need to comfort and be strong for those to whom I've told it.
I am very glad that you have the love and support of your Beloved. My dh is pulling away and separating himself from all this sadness. He blames me in his being (emotional, not intellectual) and there doesn't seem to be much that I can do to change his mind. Very, very sad. I'm still in denial (and thus still married, today anyway.)
Sometimes it's hard to comprehend that this is my life. It isn't the end of the story, but ahead looms a very large unknown.
Anyway, I sense a kindred soul and I wanted to let you know. I'm sorry this became all about me.


kate said...

((((((((hugs)))))))) That's all i got...

Woman_Who_Knits said...

(((((((((((HUGS))))))))))) I'd always find you regardless b/c of wonderful thing we have in common . . . creating with yarn!

Lisa P. said...

Wonderfully written. ((((hugs))))

Sherry said...

Your post took my breath away ... similar thoughts here, too, on being on the outside looking in ... and that feeling of exclusion. I wish you didn't have to know how that all feels. (((HUGS)))