Sunday, November 20, 2011

At first glance

Though this photo was taken two months ago, I just came across it yesterday. The longer I looked at it, the more I laughed. But then I kept thinking about it all day and there's just something that's sticking with me that creates a feeling quite different than being amused.

As I've mentioned I wasn't a big fan of having my picture taken after Miles died--I didn't like that "proof" that he wasn't there--I didn't like freezing myself in that time, that place. So there aren't too many photos of Mitch and me until Elliott hit the scene in July. Now since I want her to have photos, that's that. Still, I realize, there's something really hard about seeing myself in a photo without Miles.

This photo was taken when we were in St. Michaels for my sister's wedding. It was Elliott's first venture out to a restaurant (ok, ok, so she had already been to Chickfila twice but come on). Honestly, Mitch and I were terrified of taking her, well, essentially out in public at all because she was such a fussy baby at the time. I was still feeding on demand, which at the time meant that I was feeding her about every hour because I never knew if she was hungry or she was never completely full nor completely thrilled. In short, we were really happy-ish and pretty much at our wits end. ANYWAY, we were trying to enjoy our week off and decided to be super-adventurous and try to go out for lunch with our families. This photo makes me laugh because--for how our lives had been turned upside down by her--Elliott looks so tiny and harmless. Then it makes me laugh even harder because Mitch and I both look like we are in the newborn-trenches. Mitch is in a little bit of a daze, and I can promise you that his arm is under the table because he was gently rocking Elliott's car seat the entire lunch to keep her happy. And then me...I mean seriously. My arm brace was always on because my arms were practically broken from holding Elliott so much. And I definitely had not washed my hair in days. Then there's the fact that I was wearing the green moby wrap practically as an accessory just in fear that I would have to quickly plop her in there and leave the restaurant to walk for as long as it took for her to stop screaming. Exhausting. Hilarious.

Yet it's not the whole story. I think that's what kept sticking with me. Things aren't always as they seem, don't we all know that? Maybe we look normal, I realize. Yes, I think that's what was sticking with me. We look kind of normal, but our new normal is much more than is there on the surface...much more than what can be seen at first glance. And so I see the moment yet I see our whole story when I look at a photo like this.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I am a mother.

I am a mother.
I am a mother, and when I think of being a mother, I think of both of my children--Miles and Elliott.
And I say this in a factual way, not a sad, guilty, or sentimental way: For Miles, I felt like I was being the best mother I could possibly be--and it wasn't enough. For Elliott, I feel like I am doing my best yet never have that feeling of being the best mother I could possibly be--yet it's enough. And all of that leaves me feeling like there's no sense in the world. And I feel grateful and sad.
I fill my days with Elliott now. Smiling at her smile, laughing at her laugh, singing to her in the kitchen, holding my breath during nap time that she'll keep sleeping longer than 45 minutes this time. And I carry her around the apartment, catching glimpses of my Miles in our photographs. I think of him and smile. I think of him and the lump in my throat grows as I wish he were here as well. And now I see Elliott look at his photograph, too. And I think, how long until she knows, too, what we're missing?