Today is the fifth time that we celebrate Mother’s Day since becoming parents. It is the second time that we have a living child, our little daughter Thea. The day is no less difficult than compared to the other four years. I think we will never be able to just celebrate such a day again. During the first three years there were lots of challenges, in particular with being a family without our children physically with us. Since Thea has been born the challenges changed a little. It has become a mix of emotions like feeling grateful for being blessed with Thea and being sad that our family isn’t complete on this day. We carry our boys in our heart, but we are longing for and missing their physical presence. In 2013 I wrote about this day last and I was struggling to put my feelings into words which seems to be similar today.
From our own experience, based on our advocacy work and sharing experiences in our support network we are very aware about how challenging this day is for a lot of people – bereaved, anyone struggling to conceive or someone for whom children just did not happen – which is another reason why it doesn’t feel like a celebration. Although it has gotten a little less intense for us over the years, the pain is always present. And on some of these days I look back to the first year and I remember those very dark times and sometimes wonder how we were able to deal with it? I know the answer to my own question: we had no choice, but to get on with life. We miss the boys like we do every day, but on special holidays or family days it sometimes stings particularly. These days just lead me to speculations what we would be doing as a family which then leads me to ponder what they would be like now, Marlon being 4 years and Tobias 2 years of age. It would certainly be very different when I envision us as a family of 5, blissfully ignorant of any dangers to them.
I might just describe what we did today. Instead of doing something very fancy, we simply went out with Thea to the usual places that are important to us when we celebrate our family. We visited the boy’s bench at Locarno Beach (the flowers are growing back!) where we saw two harbour seals very close to shore. Thea loves watching all the birds fly by and utters the funniest sounds when some come very close. She visited the rabbits at the sailing club as well where we saw a mother rabbit and her little baby bunny.
A funny side story was that three other families were spending time on that part of the beach and almost all of them had dogs. At some stage we heard someone yelling and it took us a minute to realize that it was related to us. Her dog was ransacking Thea’s stroller that was parked a little up the beach behind us. In fact, the dog had smelled her snack in the storage basket. He managed to stuck his head all the way in, raided the separate lunch bag and stole a bagel before the owner managed to intervene. She was so embarrassed. We did not mind very much. We love dogs and we love them even more since our best therapy after our children died was dog walking with a friend in Pacific Spirit Park. Dogs are just great companions. They don’t ask difficult questions and spend time with you, lovingly just being there. I was throwing the ball a lot for a very special dog. Hence, we were happy for this random dog to get a little extra treat. Thea did not mind either. She got more mango that way…
Thea stuck her toes into the water and decided that it was still too early for full body immersion. Then she discovered how cool it is to hide her feet under sand to surprisingly find them again a little later. Sand in general was a winner: digging in it, throwing it, eating it, pouring it into an piece of clothes. I was surprised that she did not try to inhale it. It sure looks like we will be spending a lot of time on the beach during the next few months which I am looking forward to.
What was interesting though is that the open acknowledgement as parents – now that people see us with a living child – was different than expected. Even though we stayed reasonably off the grid we met several people who wished us a happy Mother’s Day. We had missed such acknowledgement for years and now that strangers wish us a happy Mother’s Day, it just feels… weird.