Monday, May 30, 2016

Nature vs Nurture

This weekend Niblet had her first foray into the wonderful world of full length-ballet, performing as a little diamond in a great production of Sleeping Beauty.  Her ballet school is top-notch, without going into to much insider name-dropping.  It costs a small fortune, but she is getting the kind of quality Russian-style training that I got as a kid and trust me, it will serve her well whether or not she wants to pursue dance in the coming years.

So allow me to brag:  she is notably good for a seven-year-old.  I mean, shockingly good.  She is a natural ballerina, her arms (port de bras) just fall into place, her turnout is already better than mine was, she's way more flexible than I was and she's inherited both her parents' musicality. (She was the only kid in her dance who knew her counts on stage). Her line is beautiful.

You know, I spent many years resisting becoming a dance mom.  I was so worried about imposing my own likes and dislikes on her, and frankly did everything I could to encourage her to try anything else (soccer, art, you name it).  But until just a few years ago I was still performing myself with a small local dance company (honestly, the miscarriages derailed a whole fucking lot of my life)....and one thing I can honestly say is that I truly don't feel the need to live vicariously through her.  My dance life has been full on its own.  So I guess "dance mom" for me isn't like those god-awful harpies on the reality TV competitive circuit.... it's more, "mom who knows how to guide kid through dance life."  I can help Niblet not force her turnout and fuck up her knees.  I can identify good teachers.  She and I happen to share a ballet teacher right now.  Miss H has steered Niblet to her first split, while steering me back to dance weight while sculpting my sorry injured legs with isometric exercises. 

Back to this weekend: After the show, we went to dinner at a fancy-ish pizza place, and were seated on an outside patio, where a mom and her twentiesh looking daughter started looking at us.  They were trying not to be obvious about it.  I was clad entirely in black, because I was wearing the backstage uniform of a dresser mom in this production, helping all of the little bunnettes with their hair and costumes.  I still had my name tag on.  Niblet had shed her pink tights but was sporting her bun.  "Were you in a show today?" they asked Niblet.  Turns out, mom and daughter were our dopplegangers a couple of years back, the daughter was a serious dance student for many years, at the very same dance school that Niblet attends.

"Do you like ballet?" asked the Mom of Niblet.
"I love it so muchI loved performing."

I'm not sure I ever mentioned it, but my mom was also a trained ballerina.  She and my dad spent countless hours shuttling me to my classes afterschool, and countless dollars on classes, leotards, tights and shoes.  I have often noted that being an only child enabled my parents to give me this luxury.

Pizza place Mom told me how difficult it was to make the logistics of it all work.  She worked outside the home too, and once her daughter got really good, and wanted to get even better, she was taking as many as five classes a week.  "But I would do it all over again in a heartbeat," she said.

It was only while we were driving home from dinner that I realized that the family in the restaurant mirrored my own - Mom, Dad and single daughter.

I have a crazy demanding job.  Viking husband does as well.  But I am going to try to bend over backwards to give Niblet the opportunities I had (ballet or whatever else her future has in store for her, obviously).  No, it hasn't escaped me, the undeniable fact that because she is my only baby, I can attempt this back-bending with a little more confidence.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Aha moment! "Jealousy" makes "you(not me)" feel better

It's not jealousy.

While I would never retract words that I write to reflect my emotional state while I am writing them, I see now that to describe the feelings swirling through me as I wrote that last post as jealousy is simply wrong.  And I appreciate having readers who help me see where I need to stop.  And think.  And be the change - for good. For empathy.

I feel a lot of rage when my husband suggests I cry at the sight of pregnant friends because I am jealous of them. I blow up at him at even suggesting this. And oh yes, he's done this on more than one occasion, and oh yes, I have ripped him a new asshole for suggesting as much every time.

So what the hell am I doing attributing my grief and sadness and anger to a word that doesn't belong in the same sentence?  I just saw that over a hundred people have read that post, and my god, what a terrible message to spread. 

So I am going to do something right here and right now.  From here on in, I refuse to describe the tangled mess of my feelings of grief and anger resulting from the loss of my babies as stemming from jealousy of a pregnant woman.  As my wise reader noted, people are jealous of someone's designer handbag.  They can feel jealousy around your car, or your house.   We can covet these things and feel jealousy towards people who have these things.

I see now that the whole jealousy framework is another attempt on the part of the person viewing your shitty circumstance to feel better about themselves:

When people say that you are jealous of a mother for her ability to mother, aren't they are really saying this because it is much much easier to wrap their brains around the concept of your supposed jealousy than your actual grief?   Jealousy is simple, right?  We've all felt it.  And when you think more deeply about it, jealousy also suggests an underlying ability by the actor -the person being jealous -  to change their own behavior.

"Oh wow, I will stop coveting my friend's adorable Mini Cooper - I will accept my early model Pontiac Vibe which literally vibrates on the highway.  I am not helpless. I can be the change."

I see now, I fell into the trap.  Ahhhhh, I'm onto it now. 

In our self-help oriented culture, we like to suggest that the secret to happiness is for people to change their outlook.  That's the gist of  "The Secret" right?  When my husband tells me to stop being jealous of my pregnant friends, the core underlying message is that I have some kind of power.  "I can do ___, and actively consider the things I have." Well, guess what, infertility and pregnancy loss teaches us that the ultimate act of insanity is thinking we can exert control over our circumstances. We can't do shit.

So my message is that I will feel what I'm gonna feel.  Sometimes it will be ragey.  Sometimes it will make me want to cry.  All of those feelings are legitimate.  And no one is ever going to try to steal my right to feel them by throwing the word "jealousy" in my face.

Jealousy is hereby retired.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Green-eyed monster

Another coworker is pregnant.  She is due in November.  She once told me she hoped to be pregnant in the months leading up to the election, because my organization demands that we do a lot of "volunteer" canvassing and door-knocking and getting out the vote (GoTV) work that's actually mandatory.  So she put some thought into the timing, and bam, she'll likely avoid a lot of it.

Years ago, before I was broken, I would express the desire to make similar plans.

In the meantime, the subject of this post reached out to me yesterday, completely out of the blue.  And texted me her baby pictures, as if there was nothing awkward about never personally reaching out to me to talk about her pregnancy or baby.  I mean, sure, she's long since outed on FB, but it was so weird (for me of course).  And she wants to have coffee and catch up.  I am fairly sure she only reached out because she was heading into a meeting with a former boss of mine and wanted some intel, but it just feels so damn exhausting.  Trying to put on a smile over a text message.  "Sure!  Coffee sounds great, let me know when!"

I feel like I am living in this strange aftermath of all of these conversations about babies with Niblet.  Like, now, like some sort of relapsing addict, I am actually looking at the calendar wondering,  "What DPO am I?"  Lurking on some of the old babycenter boards to see what other women are up to.  Niblet put the damn babies in my brain, when I was getting so fucking good at shutting them out.  And now, it totally feels like the pregnancies are following me around, in a way that feels harsher - stabbier - than it has in months past.

I hate jealousy.  I hate that I care.  I hate feeling punched in the gut when I see pregnant women, over a year after my last loss.  I hate that despite therapy, and acupuncture and massages, and hugs and snuggles with my daughter and husband, focusing on my health and trying to rock out my job, and ballet, I am still. irreparably.  broken.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Niblet isn't having it (Part II)

It seems that the struggles with much is too much? is hope another word for delusion..... these struggles are never-ending.  It's no wonder I pay my therapist so much money to sit and talk to me about hope and all of its dangers.  Just when you think you've come to terms with a new chapter in your life, your seven year old pulls you back into the fray.

For Niblet has grasped onto hope.  She now talks of miracles like a televangelist.  (Mommy, we haven't had a miracle yet, maybe we're due one).  She talks of her Dad and I "continuing to try."  She's asked me to eat less sugar because maybe sugar will make it harder for a miracle to happen (side note: Has this kid been talking to my old RE behind my back?)  She wants me to eat more salads.  Now look, as a general rule, I SHOULD eat more salads, but the salad/miracle equation is missing some science (says the lady who downed tubs of wheatgreass juice once upon a cycle).

M:  You do understand what the word miracle means, right Niblet?  It means that you shouldn't expect your wishes to come true.

N:  Of course I do Mom.  But why can't I still wish?  Besides, you need to eat healthier anyways.

Now, this is all very cute, and of course highly insightful on Niblet's part, but let's not kid ourselves, she's as fanciful a seven year old as you'll find.

N:  Mommy, when will you and Daddy try?

M:  Niblet, that's a really private question and not one you should ask anyone, ok?

N:  Okay mommy.  I understand.  But I feel better when I am hoping. 

This is going to take a while.