I've never claimed to be perfect. I'm far from it quite honestly. But when my actions/behavior doesn't provide the kind of example I wish to give my kids, I try to be honest with them and let them know where I have failed them. If they don't see me fail and try again, how can I expect them to do so. And if I have expectations of honesty and ownership from them, they need need to know they should expect the same from me.
This came about when I posted a picture on Carly Marie's #captureyourgrief for Pregnancy and Infant Loss month and stated that I had two miscarriages between Reese and Chase's births. Both of my girls were hurt by this because I had not told ever them about the miscarriages. They felt this was private information that I had shared in a public way and they were hurt I hadn't confided in them before doing it publicly. At first I was focused on explaining to them how I use the CYG project to post and read other's sharing of their experiences. I thought they misunderstood my use of the social media tool and was trying to explain my intentions. And I also felt that them not knowing about the miscarriages was a result of their age appropriateness on the topic and when they were old enough I would have told them, though I may have been too late. At first I didn't see the implications of my post. But after hearing from my oldest about it immediately after I posted and then later seeing how upset my second oldest was, I thought long and hard about it.
And I felt horrible.
I couldn't believe that I was so thoughtless as to not have the piece of mind to make sure they had known the information I was posting about. It was insensitive and stupid on my part and I should have known because I, too, have been hurt by learning personal information about loved ones in such a public forum. I knew I owned them a heartfelt apology. Any further explanation of my use of social media or intentions for the post were futile and insignificant. What they needed to hear was that I messed up. Big. And that I should not and will not post something that they don't know about without telling them about it first. I couldn't believe I had done that--something that I was so angry when I had been "treated" that way both someone else.
But that wasn't the end. I am so thankful that it wasn't because what I learned during the rest of our conversation was probably one of the most important things I needed to know as their mother.
Karly was upset because she said I have always done that…posted things that she didn't know about Chase. And while I was again, focused on explaining how the miscarriage information was not related to our experience with Chase at all, I was missing the boat. She said that we don't talk about Chase at all.
That was a pivotal moment--because we talk about Chase all the time. Even Owen knows Chase's name and that he's his big brother and will say "hi Chasey" when he sees a butterfly. But what she meant is that we don't ever talk about what happened with Chase and how all of that….the whole tragedy happened. And she was right. I had been waiting til they were old enough and ahd questions to explain to them what happened. About two years ago I had a long talk with Emma in the car after she asked me some questions and I told her what I thought was too much. Partly because I didn't want her to be scared for me and partly because I knew she wouldn't understand the medical side of it all. But she asked and so I told her as best I could. We cried and talked about it for some time until we were able to move on. Karly is now that age and I told her that I would answer any questions she ever had and that I don't mean to NOT talk about it and that there is nothing I would keep from her. But the thing is, Karly's not the type to come right out and ask the questions. And I told her talking about the events surrounding Chase's birth and death are all very painful so it's kind of like catching both people in the same mood at the same time in order to start the conversation. But it opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to make sure and take the time to fill in the blanks for her and explain some things. Part of me feels like a complete failure for not doing this for her but part of me is so completely thankful for the fact that I know this and we had this conversation and I have the opportunity to do this right…..not letting this past and never talking about it and then when she's 30 years old being upset with me for not feeling like she was ever told why or how her baby brother died.
When I was much younger than her, my parents were divorced and my step dad stopped picking us up for visitation. Since we lived in a new town, my mom made us keep it a secret (that we spent weekends with our dad) and lie about it to anyone who asked, like she was trying to extinguish all of our memories like the ashes of a smoldering fire. And eventually anger rose up inside me at her for trying to act like none of it ever happened. I don't want my girls feeling that way about what happened to Chase. I don't want there to be any secrets from them. They deserve to know the truth and what happened and now they are old enough to handle it. I want them to feel like they can ask me anything. I asked Emma how much she remembered of what I told her two years ago and she said not much really. I told them that's because it's pretty complicated and as you get older and learn more it will make more sense. And more questions will come up at that time and again, I'll be here to answer any of them.
We talked about some of the things but we didn't go into all of it because it wasn't the time or place. That was a talk that needed to be started at the beginning and what we were doing at the time was throwing snapshot memories out at a time. I started to realize how different their memories were than mine….even as fresh as my memories seem. They were so little when Chase was born; it's just so hard to believe it. And quite honestly I want to be sitting down and prepared when I hear what their specific memories are because it's a lot for me to handle, too. Karly told me her worst memory and it broke my heart--when she walked into the kitchen and found me on the floor by the trashcan crying. This conversation was about letting me know that they are ready for more information and want to hear things about the day he was born and I am so SO thankful for that. I know Chase is part of this and helping me through this every day and making sure I handle this right. I almost feel like if this hadn't happened tonight that we were headed down that path…..of not talking about "it" and that leading to never talking bout it and then them being grown adults and never knowing. Because they didn't ask and I didn't tell. Maybe that wouldn't have happened but nonetheless I had a wakeup call and am grateful for that.
My girls are awesome. I am so lucky to be their mom. I hope and pray every day that I don't mess this up. Because of my shaky relationship with my own mom, I work so much harder on mine with them. They already know I make mistakes. But they know I will fix it and be honest with them and that's all I can do.