“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Like all well-intentioned parents, I approached traveling with my young child with a prepared mind. Preparation for me was a necessity in order to maintain my sanity. That’s because sanity was something really nice to have when I was the person behind the wheel of the car.
“ARE WE THERE YET???”
My frazzled parent packing list for any road trip with my son, Julian, looked something like this: stroller, emergency kit, food and drinks, a change of clothes, diapers or pull-ups, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, plastic bags, entertainment devices and games, extra batteries and chargers for those games, jackets, hats, mittens, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, swimsuits, flip-flops, extra towels and blankets, stuffed animals to sleep or play with, a travel potty and TOILET PAPER when he was in that stage of learning (couldn’t predict when he’d have to go), and on, and on, and on. When I first started packing for these family adventures, I can remember inwardly grumbling…but where will we all sit?
By the time I got pregnant with my second child, I knew what was in store for me. That’s why, when I was four months pregnant, we traded in our averaged-sized vehicle for a roomy “optimistic-sized” Honda Pilot–the touring edition, of course, as this vehicle included the highly desired dvd player in the backseat where the kids would reside. Not only would the children be entertained for hours, or–dream of all dreams–be lulled soothingly to sleep, but Mom and Dad in the front seat would have some downtime. Some peace and quiet. Some, “adult recuperation.” Our Pilot was the perfect solution, suitable for more children than we were even hoping for, with plenty of room for as many as eight kids to sit in total comfort.
But, right before I turned five months pregnant, the baby I was carrying died. And when my baby died, my hopes and dreams for that vehicle died, as well. I didn’t really want it anymore. In fact, I looked at it and thought…how ridiculous.
Six years later, this past July, we finally got rid of the Pilot. During that time, our vehicle was occasionally filled with children, with the laughter of children, with the energy and exuberance of children, with the awe and innocence of that coveted age. But the laughter in the car came from the mouths of my son’s classmates, children we gave rides to on school field trips, not from the mouths of my own children and, funny thing…I was never quite comfortable in my role as that driver.
So, it was a happy, although somewhat bittersweet day, when I said goodbye to my Pilot. It was time to buy something more suitable for me—the “me” with only one child, the me who still had plenty of life left to live. Enter…my Jeep Wrangler, an adventurous off-road vehicle for a girl who’s definitely veered off onto a different path, whether I wanted to or not.
My life has been a road trip, and some of it’s been bumpy. Losing children, and healing from those losses has taken time. While, as a society, we are raised fully expecting to someday lose our parents—for they are, in fact, part of our past—we don’t go into pregnancy or parenthood expecting to lose our children. Our children are our future, and we, the parents, are supposed to go first. But when the future gets changed, when parts of that envisioned plan disappears…what then?
The theme out there is to “let go.” I felt it…it hovered over everything I did after my babies died, like a soft whispering echo…just, let go. The whisper turned into a scream when I finally had the courage to pack up unused diapers and baby clothes, bottles and bibs, toys and games that my first son had played with, books that would never be read, photo albums that would never be filled, strollers, cribs, baby blankets…even teddy bears.
I agree with “let go.” I support, let go. But I had the idea of let go, all wrong.
It was subtle, but somewhere on my healing trip, I began to understand that it wasn’t my children that I was supposed to let go of, or of their futures that I had lost, but that I was supposed to let go of my grief over losing them. My pain. My daily hollowness, fear and panic. I began to realize that the fear I was experiencing was because I was living a lie. Pretending that they’d never been here…that was what was driving me crazy. Never saying their names? Never acknowledging their existence in front of others? I did these things because, well, it makes other people feel more comfortable not to talk about dead babies. And I understand that…it’s a tough subject. But my children are a part of me, in many ways, they define me, so, without acknowledging that they were here…who then, am I?
There’s a quote I love that’s taped to my bathroom mirror. It’s by Dr. Joe Dispenza from his book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, and it goes like this: “When how you appear is who you are, you are free from the enslavement of your past. And when all of that energy now is liberated, the side effects of that freedom is called joy.”
Joy. I feel immense joy that I carried my children, that they were alive and that their lives made my life richer because they were here. What an incredible compliment to ME that they chose me to be their mom.
Now, for the next road trip in life. Let the adventure begin…
Thank you for “sharing” and “liking” any blog that moves you. Have a special day…♥
Photo credits via VisualHunt.com. Photo credit: thor_mark on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA.