Recently, I was part of a conversation where I felt like I had been invalidated – dismissed. We were discussing our concerns over a colleague’s spouse, and it was said, “well, she has her children”. I just sat there, blinking. Everyone seemed to truly believe our mutual friend would only prevail through this crisis because of her children. I was stunned. So, if she did not have children, should she have crumpled up and ceased to fight? Am I expected to be a delicate flower and not a warrior, since I don’t have living children? I felt it was suggested children are a reason to survive, to go on – but without them why bother? I had to leave the room. I was angry and I am still angry.
Why does one need to have living children, in order to have the societal stamp of a fighter? My child does not live, but my battle gear is well worn and my scars – physical and emotional – tell their tales.
Not all of us get to take home our children; not all of us get a child at all. Some people decide to remain childfree, as their choice. So, when calamity befalls us, when tragedy visits our home – what is our “at least”? Why is it suggested without children we wouldn’t have the will to live? Why is it implied without children there is no reason to get up in the morning, no purpose for me in life?
I see this a lot in the Baby Loss Community – one of the many reasons I feel safer in the Still Mothers’ community – and it concerns me. I worry, when people read these statements it promotes dangerous thinking, beliefs that we are less, beliefs that we have less. People so often say to me “I can’t imagine what I would do” – gee, thanks. Not quite the support I was looking for; I don’t want to be your nightmare, your worst case scenario. I want to be Andrea. I want to be Thomas’ Mama and Rob’s wife. I want to be an amazing Aunt, a killer sister and a stellar daughter. I want to be the friend who can pass the tissues or make you laugh. I want to share my gingerbread recipe, from my own Mother, so you and your kids can have a great memory. Even better, invite me over, and let’s start a great tradition.
I buried my baby and my broken heart did not stop, much to my surprise. Do not underestimate me. Do not limit my contributions to those of my family tree. The branch may stop with us, but we have so much to offer. And I promise you, should tragedy knock on my door, they are familiar and even though Thomas isn’t with us, I have a hundred reasons to put on my Warrior Mask and fight, again.