Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter blues & bubbles

We went to pay Katie a pre-Easter visit at the cemetery yesterday -- and I realized that I had forgotten to bring some spring flowers & Easter knick-knacks to replace the fading Christmas decorations adorning her niche marker. Bad, bad mommy.  :(  

As I ran my fingertips over the little bronze teddy bear on her marker, I muttered bitterly to dh, "I know life isn't fair. But this is REALLY unfair."  (I wasn't talking about the decorations.)

It's Easter today -- and I am feeling a little blue and weepy and at loose ends -- for all the same reasons that I've documented in previous Easter posts (2010, 2009 and 2008).  It's just another Sunday like any other for us, nothing special.  The only thing that makes it different from other Sundays is that nothing is open, there aren't any movies we really want to see (our usual preferred method of dealing with family-centric holidays), and there are dozens of photos of adorable, excited children in pastel finery colouring eggs, brandishing baskets full of chocolate rabbits and being cuddled by their adoring parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cluttering up my Facebook feed.

If I had my druthers, I would take off for a B&B getaway weekend -- or at least brunch at the local golf course. Something, anything, to make the weekend a little more special, and feel a little less disconnected from the rest of the world, a little less of an oddball. :p 

However, dh feels obligated to be "on call" if his dad wants us to come for Easter dinner. I  understand that. He's in his 80s;  he won't be here forever. The thing is, sometimes we get called and sometimes we don't. (And when we do get "the call," it's inevitably at the last minute.)  Dh also detests waiting in line for anything -- most especially food, lol -- which precludes going out for brunch at the last minute (especially without a reservation).

We did spend last evening with FIL BIL & SIL and one of our nephews, so we haven't been entirely apart from family this weekend. I sometimes think Easter and Thanksgiving are difficult holidays for me to get through (as opposed to Christmas), because I'm so far away from my family of origin. But even if we lived closer to them, my parents wouldn't be around to visit anyway -- they've been soaking up some southern U.S. sun for the past month and are still en route home.

A couple of things turned up in my Facebook feed today that made me feel just a little less isolated, though. Two blogging friends posted -- one speculating about what her dad was up to in Heaven today, and the other a photo of her two kids at the cemetery visiting their sister.  Seeing their posts made me feel a little less alone, reminding me that a lot of families are missing someone special today.

The other item was -- ironically -- from Lisa Belkin, parenting columnist at the Huffington Post. In  "Parenting Memories: The Bubbles That Unite and Divide Us," Belkin writes about how parenting is all-encompassing... until it's not.
Every stage (every day) of raising children is its own isolated bubble. You can see others, but you are on your own. Sleep training. Potty training. Toddler tantrums. Homework. Teen angst. Everything feels like no one has ever really done this before. And once one stage ends, you can’t reinhabit the obsessions that came with it. You can remember and share tales. And smile knowingly, even empathetically. But you can’t go back to the place when a parenting challenge was new, and insistent and yours.
This paragraph, in particular, gave me a shock of recognition -- perhaps because I once wrote about it myself:
I had an inkling of this before my children were born. I would drive past the school parking lot, filled to overflowing, and realize that, for some of my neighbors, it was parent-teacher night, or the science fair or graduation, while for me it was just Tuesday. We lived in the same town, but in parallel villages -- side-by-side yet invisible to each other. [emphasis mine]
I think Belkin's bubble theory relates to a lot more than parenting. It helps explain why it's so difficult for the bereaved to relate to the blissfully ignorant, for fertiles to relate to infertiles, for people parenting after infertility and loss to support those still in the trenches (and vice-versa) and for those of us living without children (for whatever reason) to relate to those who have them (and vice-versa). Does this not sound a bit like the experience of infertility? --
...It changes you, yes, and leaves traces and footprints. But it does not become the whole of you. You think it will -- you can’t imagine that there is anything beyond this point in time, this all encompassing feeling, or juggle, or uncertainty or joy, just as you don’t clearly remember what came before...
But what happens when our bubbles are like armor? Are the thin walls between us what all the so-called Mommy Wars are about? We see each other and we think we understand each other, but we are in spheres that do not touch. Are the bubbles also why parents never rise up as a movement and demand what they need -- better childcare, more generous parental leave, more flexible work environments -- because when we are in the moment we are too busy and exhausted, and when we are past it, the urgency is gone? It is definitely why so much remarkable change comes from parents who become advocates -- for gun control, for research into diseases that steal childhoods -- because theirs are bubbles that never set them free.
My bubble may never quite set me free -- but I am hoping that it's not so rigid that it keeps me apart from others. Even though sometimes it sure feels like it (like today). :p

Happy Easter.


  1. Thinking of you all this Easter (*hugs*)

    Very interesting post, what a great insight. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. What you say about bubbles ... I'm starting to think that the only way around them is embracing our vulnerability, and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with each other. Like the posts you saw from others who are also missing loved ones today.

    Sending you love.

  3. Thought provoking post Lori. I have just come home from visiting a friend back in town for Easter, with her little grand-daughter she is caring for. I couldn't quite put my finger on why I felt down, deflated and a bit disconnected after visiting but reading the 'living in parallel villages that don't touch' comment, it all made sense. As a child-free single 50's woman the conversation seemed ill balanced. You share, I share, but your stuff has more weight. It's like EVERYTHING I might ever say, do, be or achieve will ALWAYS be trumped, for lack of a less competitive word, in a parents eye by something child-related in their world - the importance / difficulty of raising a child vs the lesserness of not being in the child bubble. My worries are lesser than theirs because a child is not affected in mine. If I had a dollar for every time I had my opinion dismissed by "yes, but as a MOTHER I think..." J9

  4. This is a very interesting and important post. I commend you for being able to see the parallels between experiences of those parenting and those mourning their children (or mourning their infertility). It shows an incredible self awareness, as well as an appreciation for others, that you were able to make that connection. I look forward to reading that article in its entirety. It also seems really interesting.

  5. I know how you feel. You're *not* alone.

  6. Dear Lori

    A great post, as usual. If it helps our Easter bubble, (me, DH and our 4 year old adopted daughter) has had me in a complete meltdown due to impending 50th birthday tomorrow and starting new job, which means dd has to be farmed out to camp while I work. I so empathise with your thoughts even though our situations are not quite the same. Thanks for sharing

  7. This is a great post, Lori. I especially liked this bit ... "... but for me it was just Tuesday." Yes, that sounds exactly like infertility.

    I always think a great post makes us think. And this certainly has made me think - I feel as if I have more to say, but definitely need to work through it first. You've reminded me of a post I've been wanting to write for months. I need to get back to it. I

  8. There's one thing about the Easter story that I always enjoyed when I was a kid - the moment when the women discover that the great rock in front of Jesus' tomb has been moved and he is not there. It signals hope. The "what if", that death is truly not the end of the life we once cherished. At least that's the part that resonates with me.

    I wish that we didn't find it necessary to build boundaries around every category we can think of in this world. The "you are not this so you wouldn't understand" boundary. There are bubbles everywhere, aren't there?

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