Sunday, October 3, 2010

When it shouldn't matter, but somehow still does

Here is the story. Mr. g's older brother had a long term girlfriend. They had a baby girl together. Our niece is now 12. Girlfriend was never "mom" material. She was never abusive or outright neglectful, (that I know of) just not really into being a mom. One famous family story about her is the moment they brought niece to mom after mom had c-section. The nurse held baby out, and girlfriend turned her head away. The nurse had to convince her to hold baby. Yes, go ahead and blame the drugs, the hormones, the nervousness of being a first time mom, but this attitude basically continued. It is hard to sit here and type the words that would describe it. She was just never "into it" and it was always fairly obvious. What probably saved her for years was the fact that she worked, and worked a lot, and my brother in law who I think basically did a lot of the basic child care. When you would watch girlfriend and niece interact, unless you knew them, I don't think you would know they were mother and daughter.

One of my personal memories took place when niece was about 8. We had stopped by their house to pick something up, and girlfriend and niece had just arrived home from the bookstore together. Girlfriend needed to go to the grocery store. Niece said, "oh! Can I come with you?" with all the hopefulness and desire to spend more time with mom. Girlfriends response? "No! I already did something with you today!" It was this way between them all the time. Or at least, all the times I witnessed. The way girlfriend was was a known and talked about topic in the G family.

Around this same time, girlfriend and brother in law were in the process of splitting up. This took some time as they owned a house together, had niece, etc. In fact, when M died, I was surprised to see girlfriend at the hospital, I thought they had broken up enough for her to miss solemn family moments. (And quite frankly, she and I were never best friends anyway). Brother in law of course, took custody of niece. There is no way this woman could parent by herself 24/7. Brother in law had conversation with mr. g about how girlfriend just wasn't like them, she was raised differently, etc. (actually, I think her childhood was pretty screwed up) He had tried to help her improve with niece, but it just wasn't working. After the split was final, it seemed like girlfriend and niece's relationship improved. I thought the fact that they didn't live together was to credit for that. You can put up with anyone if it is only little bits at a time. Girlfriend found religion, married a church man.

Today was mr. g's birthday. This birthday started out so much better than last year, when pregnant with a dead IZ, waiting for my procedure to free him, we couldn't stomach a party and sat in a Denny's restaurant for breakfast with his family, the one thing we let them do for us. Today, we had the family over, we were outside. I was feeling some stress, but was dealing okay. I was several feet from the party, helping A fill up her water table. I overheard it.

Niece telling family her mom was pregnant.

Dramatic as it sounds I reacted the way some people do to news of a death. For a moment, the world froze, then moved again in tilt. A roar rushed my ears and I felt like I had dived deep into the ocean where all you hear is the sound of water moving. A broke it out of me, by asking a question, which she had to repeat before I shook it off and could answer. I composed myself, sat quietly with A for a few moments before finally rejoining the party to fix a plate of food.

I did okay. I really did. Not in my head, but on the outside.

Later, on a walk we took after the party, I brought it up with mr. g. A feat in itself because "Other Peoples Pregnancies" is sometimes on our list of Things We Don't Talk About. But we did, and I found myself sniveling down the street.

The thing is, WHY does this bother me so much?* I told mr. g, it is like caring when your ex-boyfriend starts dating someone else. IT isn't about you. It is his life. Quit letting other peoples lives bother you. But it brought me back, back to the place. Life isn't fair. Boo Hoo. Didn't I already know this? Haven't I spent five, FIVE years trying to make peace with that fact? And this one piece of news sends me down there like a junkie finding out there is free smack at the grocery store.

And, I go back to these feelings. Why me? I start to think I MUST have done something to deserve what happened.** Even though, in logical moments I say I don't believe that.

I always feel like such a child. Why don't I just stomp into a church and kick my feet and demand that God give me an answer? It would serve just as much purpose.

At one point in the conversation, I told mr. g, I feel like I should talk about it when I feel this way, because clearly this is where my mind is, but what is the point? Besides, what would I say? Just repeat "life isn't fair" over and over until I was hoarse? He mentioned that he feels these feelings too, but then just tries to think of A, and feel lucky for her, focused on her. I told him I do that too, in these moments and everyday moments, but frankly, I'm getting sick of that advice. I mean really, I am getting so bitter when people tell me, "then you must be so grateful for A" Ummmm....yeah, but I don't see these same people telling the woman with all 3, 5, 7 of her kids that she should feel grateful for kids. Do you only have to feel lucky and grateful if some of your kids died? And you only get to feel bitter and angry if you have all of your kids? Yeah, totally makes sense.

So there you have it. I'm not proud of what I feel, I only know that I feel it. Isn't life SO unfair?

Make me feel better. Just agree with me. Don't tell me to be happy, okay?

Prayer for tonight? Please God, tell me I won't feel this way the rest of my life. Help guide me toward peace.

*One of the non selfish reasons it bothers me is the thought of this woman being responsible for another soul out in the world. My heart broke many a times over the years as I watched her and niece together. Its sad to think the cycle will be starting again.

**I'm still sitting here struggling with feeling like I must have done something to deserve it somehow. I guess the road to accepting life doesn't make sense is longer and harder than I ever thought.


CLC said...

Life isn't fair. I share many similar feelings. The bitterness is hard to control sometimes. It's a definite ebb and flow. I just try to remind myself that eventually everyone will experience a sorrow that is painful to them, even if it's not the same as ours. That said, there are some days where the anger is still boiling in me.

Catherine said...

"Do you only have to feel lucky and grateful if some of your kids died?"

Oh boy, is this something I struggle with I wish I had an easy "fix" for you. But you're not alone...if that helps at all. {{{hugs}}}

Billy said...

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loribeth said...

Ugh. Maybe she's changed?? I hope so, for the baby's sake. On the other hand, even if she HAS changed, the older daughter will no doubt notice the difference & wonder why. Not an easy situation, any way you look at it.

I really believe some people are just not cut out to be parents. Some realize it & remain childfree, but some are either careless with birth control or have a baby because that's what expected of them, without really examining their motives & readiness for parenthood. And sadly, I think there are far too many parents like that around these days.

lesliedispensaperlman said...

Life is a series of crazy moments- some beautiful and some horrible. I wish we knew why some people's lives are weighed more heavily into one category.
I feel horrible for your niece and all that her life must be in longing so much for a mother who will look at her with tenderness and love. I feel terrible for you who has to know that this woman has something that you (and many of us) so desperately want. And yet she chooses to let it slowly slip away. You can't re-do a childhood. You can't re-do a life. I just wish for one moment we could re-do the loss and make it all different.

Grace- Leslie