The most wonderful time of the year started with a bang, as a “friend” whom I haven’t spoken to since Matthew died apparently thought I would enjoy receiving a combo birth announcement/holiday card. In summary, I did not like it, Sam I am, and I’m also left perplexed as I try to imagine the sender’s line of thinking – like, “Hmmmmm… I haven’t spoken to Christine since her son died, and sending her this card to inform her that my baby arrived safely when one of hers didn’t seems like the perfect way to reconnect!” I worry that the sender lacks logical thinking skills crucial for survival. Or just thinking skills in general…
Howie visited for Thanksgiving. The reunion was straight out of a fairytale – when he entered our house he leaped into our arms (I swear I could hear Chariots of Fire playing in the distance), and he and Joel are best friends now, and Joel cooed at him and barked like a dog (#childprodigy). Kidding. Howie was nice to Joel, and Joel seemed moderately interested in Howie, but we decided Howie won’t return permanently until Christmas. We worry about Howie’s tail, because it flaps around really hard. (I wonder if this is why some dogs have their tails cropped.)
Over Thanksgiving Mark’s sister, who teaches science, helped with some diaper changes, and she was pretty aggressive with her usage of Joel’s Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, slathering a shit ton (excuse the pun) of it on his crack, and then when I started laughing, she cracked me up even more when she blurted out, “Joel – now your butthole is ready to fight the acidity of your poop!”
The day after Thanksgiving we (Mark and his family and I) took Matthew Bear and Joel to the tree farm to pick out a Christmas tree, and it was bittersweet, obvy, as we should have had Matthew and Joel, not Matthew Bear and Joel… But we did manage to have fun and find a nice Christmas tree. And it was interesting to see how many wusses there were cutting down little trees with electric chainsaws, and Joel really enjoyed riding behind the tractor.
My mom sends me disturbingly blunt text messages. Shortly after I wrote some stories about my childhood, she sent me a text to inform me, “Roberta is dead.” And then a couple of days ago she sent another text asking, “Who was the girl on your soccer team who didn’t have the nicest personality and perhaps wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer?”
It seems, as it relates to grief, I’ve regressed a bit. I’ve probably cried every single day for the last 90 days – grief is not linear.
Lately it seems like everyone I encounter has a child (or a connection to a child) between the ages of one year and 18 months old, and said people find the need to tell me all about said children like it’s no big deal. I can tell they think it’s fine because we have Joel now. But it isn’t fine – it hurts every single fucking time, and I’d prefer they spare me from such conversations.
The other night I was complaining to Mark about how I never know where I’ll end up with my job, and it’s stressing me out, and then we started talking about priorities, and we agreed my job definitely isn’t number one, so I need to stop freaking out about it. (Easier said than done.) Then we kind of mulled over pros and cons of me staying at home, and one of the cons I came up with is that if I quit, I would become less diversified in my activities, so if Joel were to die, I’d have no living children AND no career. It is so messed up that I think this way now…
My anxiety has been pretty terrible. Sometimes, when it’s especially bad, I binge google scary topics. (It’s why I’m such a ray of sunshine.) Mark looked at my phone and informed me that, last week, I spent 18 hours perusing the internets, reading about terrible things. (Granted, during some of this time I was multi-tasking.) So I’ve removed internet access from my phone, which my therapist thinks is a great idea. My therapist told me she has many mom clients my age (31) who struggle with anxiety in the same way I do and also engage in unhealthy internet habits, so she’s going to start a support group for this specific issue. I hope all of this can help me. I’m actually kind of exhausted from thinking about dark things so often, but I don’t feel like I can fully control my thoughts either. I was always a worrier, but I was usually able to calm my fears by telling myself, “Christine, stop your irrational worry over statistically improbable things.” But then Matthew died and every horrifying thought now feels like it could be a rational one.
I recently went to a lunch with some co-workers and our financial service providers, and we were discussing someone having a shotgun wedding, and then Going to the Chapel started blaring over the speakers. It must have been a sign.
For the past two Sundays we’ve attended a new (to us) church. I have complicated feelings about church these days, but Mark wanted to attend, so I obliged because I was bored, and I figured Joel would enjoy the musical instruments. (He did.) The whole church thing is just a goddamn shame, because we really liked the one we were attending when Matthew died, and we have great friends there, but Mark and I recently engaged in some honest self reflection, and we decided that it is a very real possibility that we may never be able to see certain families without feeling intense anger and sadness, and it might be best not to put ourselves through the agony of watching certain children grow up. So I don’t know where we’ll end up with all of this (we don’t have to decide anything now), but in the meantime, maybe we’ll keep attending this new one.
We attended this social gathering where everyone in attendance supposedly cares about us and knows about Matthew and Joel, though several of them had yet to meet Joel, so while my expectations certainly weren’t high, I figured Joel’s presence would at least be acknowledged like, “Hey – glad he made it here.” But it wasn’t. And I think the reason for this is that some fear conversations about Joel might lead to conversations about Matthew. (Sometimes they do, and other times they don’t.) So rather than taking any chances, it seems some just decided to avoid us. I recently read a quote about how those incapable of confronting situations involving death haven’t processed realities relating to their own mortality, so I wonder if this is what was going on here…
Thanksgiving (overall) wasn’t as bad as I expected. I focused on the good and all for which I’m thankful (which is a lot), but then the Sunday after Thanksgiving was rough, and I cried for most of the day. It’s like if I can manage to have a decent day, I’ll later be punished for it – it seems this is how grief works, and I’ll struggle with this for the rest of my life. *sigh*
Yesterday was Mark’s birthday, and he ordered himself an ice cream cake from the local custard place, but he is so damn picky that he had to call in his own order (he ultimately selected fudge/oreo), and his mom was putting pressure on him to have the cake say, “Happy birthday, Mark!” So he was embarrassed to tell the person on the phone he was ordering a birthday cake for himself, so he ordered it under his dad’s name.
Joel is four months old now. I didn’t go to his four month check up, because such things stress me the hell out, but per Mark everything went well, and Joel received a good report from the doctor, but then he became sick today with a low-grade fever. We’re going to start feeding him some baby oatmeal this weekend and start introducing other solids shortly thereafter. Joel’s in the 99th percentile in height and 93rd in weight… He smiles tons and makes the funniest sounds and mimics our motorboat sounds too. I think Joel takes after his daddy with his outgoing nature. We’re doing cloth diapers, and his diapers are so big that they often encumber his movement, so sometimes we take them off for tummy time and do “naked tummy time,” which Joel really loves – on Thanksgiving, we stood Joel up after naked tummy time, and he peed in the middle of the living room, but luckily it was on a waterproof surface. #memories