Browsing Tag

parenting

Talk to Strangers

Listening to Strangers

2016 was a tumultuous year outside of this blog, but it was also a pretty amazing year inside of DadvMom.com. We published our first book, put up more content than ever before, and connected with thousands of new readers. It was so great to hear from folks we know who enjoyed our book. But our friends are also totally biased. They even said nice things about the weirdly dry potato soup that Annmarie made last Wednesday. (How can soup be dry? I dunno, but it was. It really was.) So even more fun than the encouraging words from friends were the cool words from total strangers, folks we met on this writing journey who read the book, dug the book, and happily spread the good vibrations and glad tidings across the Interwebs. To them, we say a big merry thank you! And we encourage you to check out some good work via the links below.

Army Amy is a super lovely random stranger I found via an article she wrote about moving in the military. I so related to watching television and eating snacks with cardboard boxes judging me in all directions. Army Amy’s writing is simultaneously hilarious and heartfelt, and totally worth checking out, and she was kind enough to review our book:

The book bills itself as a parent’s guide but I think it’s so much more universal than that. Annmarie and Ken narrate alternating chapters as they recount their journey from college co-eds to a family of five in the span of 17 years with 11 (yes, 11!) moves in the middle of it all. Annmarie worked as a teacher with challenging students and her husband was in the Navy. They both eventually moved on from those careers, but you can tell that they answered a calling to forge a difficult path. I really loved that! Hat tip to people who choose the tough road. They shared their wisdom through all of life’s changes and challenges, and that’s what I was needing to hear right now. (Not to mention, the writing is beautifully lyrical; you don’t need to be going through a tough time to appreciate it.)

. . . You will love this book if you are in the military or a family member, if you live a topsy-turvy life, or if you appreciate a well-told tale. . . . This was a can’t-put-down book for me, and I can always use more of those on my nightstand.

 Read the full review, and check out Amy’s site here.

 

Another lovely review came from a writer at Queen of My Fairy Tale. (I know her name, but since she is sweetly anonymous on her site, I am not sharing it here.) I stumbled across her thoughtful blog late one night, and I immediately connected to the battle of raising three children and trying to keep your cool. About Here Be Dragons, she says:

Hands down one of the best books I have ever read. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend that you go buy it now….I mean right now! It should be given out to newly weds, new parents, 2nd 3rd 4th time parents, grandparents and everyone in between. There is something within these pages for everyone.

. . . It made me laugh, cry, shake my head yes (so many times!) that I felt like I knew these people. I related and it was a breath of fresh air, knowing that I am not alone in the crazy cyclone of a parenting world.

Read the full review and check out the fairy tale queen here.

 

There is still time to have this book in your hot little hands – or in the hands of someone you love – in time for Hanukkah, Christmas, or Festivus. Order yours today.

And thanks for hanging in there with us during 2016. Such a difficult year in lots of ways, but it felt great to have this safe space to call home.  Happy holidays, everyone.

 

Awesomeness

We Have Some News. . .

No, I’m not pregnant.

Whenever a woman reaches a certain reproductive age, this is the only “news” that truly lives up to the announcement of NEWS. Sorry to disappoint.

And, no, Ken and I are not getting divorced.

I always find it odd when people think I might be going there. As though it was only a matter of time before I got tired of his shenanigans and he had his fill of my crazy. No splitsville yet. Though he is on notice for the broken sailboat he brought home from West Virginia three weeks ago Tuesday.

The real news is that we have written a book. Together. Without getting divorced. And without anybody getting pregnant. And largely because of friends/readers/wacky people like YOU, a publishing house bought it, and our book will be available on October 11th, 2016. Bonkers.

Here Be Dragons is about how we – you, all of us, actually – were pretty awesome before we became parents. We sailed oceans. We tried skydiving. And then the kids came along and peed on everything. And they made us sad and tired and angry. And we needed to sneak ice cream when they weren’t looking and hide drinks in the garage just to survive the days with those adorable little monsters who took over our marriage and kind of ruined our lives. And then, just when we thought we were never going to make it – never going to drink an entire cup of coffee uninterruptedly again, never going to drive from point A to point B without 19 arguments and 4 bathroom stops, never going to become the grown-ups we’d always planned to be – we figured out something even better: how to be a family. We found joy and purpose and laughter and adventure. Sure, our days are still hard sometimes. But they also got awesome again. Here Be Dragons is the story of that journey.

And we are really excited (and nervous and shy and terrified, actually) to share it with you.

HereBeDragons

“So, HOW CAN I HELP?”

It’s funny you should ask. Luckily, there are a bunch of ways you can help:

  1. Order a copy. Or eight. Buy one for your Mom’s birthday, your Dad’s retirement, your sister’s housewarming party, or for that cousin you don’t even really know who is having a baby shower and you don’t want to go, but you at least want to send her something that isn’t a rattle or a blanket.
  1. Help us spread the word. Tweet, Post, Pin, Snap, or Instagram us. Walk around your neighborhood whacking a frying pan with a wooden spoon and shouting our names. Whether you are high-tech or low-, we welcome the vibes.
  1. Write a review. If you have a blog or a typewriter, if you write for your school newspaper or the Chicago Tribune, we would be honored if you would give us – our work, our stories, our fashion sense – a little shout-out. And, on October 11th, Amazon reviews will be open for business. We would really love it if some of you guys would write us a review. It only takes like 3 minutes and those ratings really help.
  1. Drive around with Here Be Dragons in your car. (To sign up, send us a message with “Junk in Your Trunk” or “Dragons in My Wagon” in the subject line — info@dadvmom.com). We are looking for a few good missionaries. You never know when you might wish you had a copy to share with a friend or stranger. Plus, we would love to get this book on shelves in independent bookstores and libraries.
  • If there is an independent bookstore you frequent, go in and ask them if they will sell our book. If they say yes, hand them a copy.
  • Ask your local library if they will stock it. Sometimes, there is a lady behind the desk who does the ordering. Sometimes, it is a guy in a hat. For our library, there was a form.
  • Ask your book club if they will give it a whirl. There are discussion questions for reading groups already in the back of the book.
  1. Invite us over. We already have book events scheduled in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Cleveland, and we are scheduling more. We are equally at home in auditoriums or living rooms. We can talk at libraries and bookstores, pancake breakfasts, church luncheons, or supper clubs. We’ll come to your PTA meeting or your military spouses’ tea. We’ll bring books. We’ll make people laugh. We’ll serve pie. (<–Okay, Ken wants a disclaimer here. We only serve pie sometimes. But that’s just because some places have weird rules about pie and other places are way more cookie or brownie friendly, but come and see what dessert appears in your area.) We love to talk to folks about the horror/wonder of raising children.
  1. Send us warm thoughts. Even if you can’t buy the book, tweet, or meet us, we still love knowing you are out there. Post a comment here or on one of our social media sites. Let us know how you are doing. Let us know when DadvMom.com makes you laugh or cry or throw things.

My mom has priest friend, Father Bob, who has an expression: “So, is it yes or yes?” When he has a couple of projects that need doing – tree limbs that should be trimmed near the parking lot, a committee that wants staffing after Christmas – he goes before the church congregation and says, “So, is it yes or yes?” Are you going to help me in this way or are you going to help me in that way? The expression makes me laugh, but man, he gets things done.

It can be tricky to ask for help. We don’t want to bother you guys. We know you are busy. But we are literally a mom and pop outfit over here, and we can’t do this without you. Check the list above, check it twice, and let us know if it is YES or YES. Let us know how you can help.

As always, thanks for reading,

Annmarie and Ken

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Time Travel

A Father’s Day Promise

When I was 5, my father made a promise he never intended to keep. He had returned from a long trip, with presents. I got a fossilized shark tooth and spent the next month asking about fossils.

At some point, my father made the mistake of describing a massive fossil bed somewhere in Germany. I begged him to take me. There were good reasons that could never happen: Dad knew nothing about fossils; Germany was far away; I was 5. But I would not be deterred.

Eventually, my father relented. “Fine, I promise we will hunt fossils in Germany.”

For more than 30 years, I held onto that promise. That’s not to say I held my father to it. Eventually, I understood how absurd it was. But I wondered why he agreed in the first place. I kept telling myself, “A promise is a promise.

Becoming a parent changes everything, even logic. It turns out a promise is not a promise when made under duress to a child. As a Navy pilot, I went through a prisoner of war survival program, which included tactics for withstanding torture. This is training every father should undergo. I learned there that a forced confession, like a forced promise, is not real.

A few months ago, I made such a promise to my daughter. I do not remember the specifics of my breakdown, only Katie’s pleading. “Daddy, if I make good choices can we hike the Great Wall?”

“No.”

“Daddy, I know you said we can’t.  But if I eat 10 vegetable, can we?”

Multiply that question a thousand times and the answer transforms. “Yes … I promise.”

Since then, Katie has told everyone that Dad is taking her to China. Even her teacher was impressed. “So you’re hiking the Great Wall with your daughter? Amazing!”

A pledge to a child can be a beautiful thing. I’ve promised Katie that when we swim into deep water I will not let go. I’ve sworn I will always love her. Some promises, however, cannot be kept. My father did not take me fossil hunting.

dadvmom.com_promises_GrandpaHStill, what lay behind his promise was never betrayed. It lost its original form; time, and the pressures of parenting, transformed it. But it emerged something beautiful, a reminder of adventures we did have. My father and I dove the Florida Keys, we canoed Loch Ness, we hiked the length of Hadrian’s Wall.

Sharks lose thousands of teeth in a lifetime. New ones roll forward to replace the old. Occasionally, a perfect tooth falls to the ocean floor. Sometimes, sediment buries it before nature’s harsher elements wear it away. If everything happens just right, time and pressure transform it.

Millions of years pass. Maybe one is uncovered and brought home as a gift. A fossilized shark tooth has no real “tooth” left in it; minerals have replaced everything it was. Still, it stays true to its original form.

Katie and I will share a thousand adventures, even if they aren’t the ones she imagines today. Someday, we may snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. We may fly to Texas for a hamburger. And maybe, just maybe, we will walk the 1,500 miles from Shanhaiguan to Jiayuguan, and laugh at all that time and nature conspire to change.

A version of this essay originally appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Awesomeness, Birthday-mania

Take-Your-Daughter-to-Work Week

Once again, the job I love had me on the road last week. It was a quick trip, a day transiting through Istanbul and three more in Germany for a half-dozen meetings over beers and bratwurst. It’s the kind of jaunt I would have loved before kids, when I did not have to worry about them missing me, and me missing them. Plus, my departure was set for a couple days after Katie’s birthday, which is never ideal.

My brother, who lives in Germany, said, “Why don’t you bring her?” I poked around online, found cut-rate airfare, and made plans to meet up with my brother’s whole family in Munich. On Katie’s birthday, my present to her was an envelope with plane tickets, her passport, and 100 Euros (thanks Grandma). Two days and 10 time zones later, we were feet-dry in Deutschland. Between my work meetings, we saw castles and museums and ate pretzels until we were stuffed.

Most of all, we talked, about the kinds of things that only come out when you spend hours and hours with someone you love. We staggered through our jetlag together, and spent one too many midnights watching bad movies on German Netflix. Towards the end we began plotting our next adventure. Thailand?  South Africa?  Vladivostok?  As a father, it’s easy to bemoan the fact that my little girl is growing up. Too often, it happens while I am gone. But there is an upside. She’s becoming an awesome wingman.

The Writing Process

Interrupting Ducks

“Whatever you do, don’t bother Mom while she’s writing,” cautioned Ken as he zipped out to the garage.

Which is why Katie only asked for a little help with her candy-making stand. She needed marshmallows. And caramels. And Rice Krispies. And chocolate molds. And wax paper.

“Mom is writing, so just let her be,” reminded Ken as he opened his computer.

Which is why Lizzie only needed me to photograph three of the costumes that she put on her stuffed pig.

And why Henry crawled into my lap and fell asleep.

Our kids drive me batty sometimes. They do not understand the sanctity of my work time.

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Then again, they are the inspiration for my work. Their shenanigans fuel my stories; their silliness softens my heart. Because of them, I get to say all manner of things I have never said before.

     No, Lizzie, it is not ‘illegal’ to kick a volleyball.

     No, Henry, you cannot bring three owls and a puppy into church.

     No, Katie, I will not eat that spider for a dollar.

     Yes, Lizzie, I would love to see your pig’s new talent show.

     Girls, stop fighting over that cucumber.

     Lizzie, even if Katie said she would pay you a dollar, please do not shoot that arrow at your father’s butt.

     No, thank you, Katie. I do not want a chocolate-covered hard-boiled egg.

I sometimes envy my writer friends who have offices, computer desks, and uninterrupted hours in which to create.

When I really need to do serious writing, I drive to the grocery store. They have a couple tables near the check out. It is quieter there. Plus, afterwards, I can buy milk.

But mostly, I prefer to write past bedtime. I tuck myself here in the alcove, just me and the spiders, and maybe a cup of tea.  I type through the shadows, thankful, always so very thankful, that the kids’ stories light up the dark.

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Solidarity Brothers and Sisters

That Woman

We all know who she is. That woman who can’t quite handle her kids.

It isn’t fair, of course. Since there are plenty of men who struggle to keep their own children in line. But for whatever reason, we give those guys a pass. It’s that woman. She is the one we notice, and in our weaker moments, gossip about. And we all know who she is.

Her kids scream at her in the grocery store. They slug one another during school pickup. They tantrum in the slushy line at the carnival.

We see them. We see her. We know who she is.

And we judge her. She is obviously doing something wrong. Otherwise, her children would act better, especially in front of all of us. They wouldn’t cuss each other out over the last French fry or lie when they broke another child’s toy. If this woman were a better mother, her kids would have the good sense to save their bad behavior for home. Like ours do.

We pity her, this woman whose children bite, shriek, and scratch. We feel so very sorry that she wakes up to this mayhem day after day. We can’t imagine how exhausted she must feel. We wouldn’t want to do it.

We are also a little thankful for her. But for the grace of God. . . . She reminds us that we are okay. We aren’t the worst parents in town. Sometimes we don’t feed our kids any vegetables. Some days we like our children best when they are asleep. But at least they don’t hit each other in the face with t-ball bats. Our offspring never pee on the tree in front of church. We love our kids a little more because they aren’t as bad as hers.

Some of us try to advise her. We share our success stories, about potty training or that one time our kid threw a fit at the mall. She listens politely to our unsolicited advice. “You know, if only you would ___.” Or, “I’ve found that when my kids say ___, it is best if I ___.” She nods and makes us feel helpful. But the next time we see her, we shake our heads. There’s her daughter mouthing off again. There’s her son punching the dog in the ear.

We all know who this woman is. We disdain, pity, value, and preach at her, but how many of us ever hold her hand? Do we walk together or offer comfort when she cries? Do we keep her children and send her to yoga, to church or to bed? Have we brought her a meal or asked her to tea? We say we know her, but have we ever tried to understand how she lives? Have we lightened her load? Have we ever helped her breathe?

We are not alone on this journey. And, like it or not, whether we have nine children or none, whether we are experienced parental ninjas or still figuring out how to fold the stroller, each one of us will have a turn being ‘that woman.’ Because that woman is inside all of us. (It was my turn the other day in the Trader Joe’s parking lot when I lost my cool about the melted ice cream and the baguette that was to be for company but which the kids decided to lick.  Sorry to all who heard the yelling.) We are all in this together. We are one another’s keepers. We owe it to ourselves, our communities, and our world — the world that our children will inherit — to comfort instead of criticize, to offer ease rather than pity, and to make each other’s burdens light.

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Awesomeness

Art Stand

My middle kiddo, Lizzie, has had some trouble transitioning back to school.

“I miss summer,” she says to me almost daily.

My responses have varied, but have mostly been along the lines of, “I miss it, too, sweetheart. What can we do to make today feel more like summertime?”

We have gone for ice cream cones and drawn with chalk. We have invited friends over to run through the sprinkler. But yesterday, she wanted to have a sale. Not lemonade this time. Or brownies.

“Mom, I want to have an Art Stand,” she said.

“Okay,” I replied, and I followed her outside with a roll of tape. I was not entirely sure what she had in mind. But I watched as this six-year-old, my aspiring artist and budding entrepreneur, taped up her best pictures along our ramshackle front fence.

And then we waited.

“Art Sale!” she yelled as cars whizzed by. “Art Sale!” she called to the couple walking their dogs and the teenager delivering pizza. “Art Sale!” she chirped to the neighbor dragging a trashcan down the driveway. But nobody stopped.

We spent thirty minutes hawking pictures to the air, and I watched my daughter’s hope deflate like a balloon.

Her older sister noticed, too, and Katie came outside to purchase a painting made entirely of polka dots. “It’s confetti,” Lizzie told her.

“It’s awesome,” said Katie. “I will hang it in my room.”

Dad came home from the office in time to buy a colored pencil sketch of an alien spaceship. I grabbed my purse from the car and bought a magic marker rainbow.

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But in the mean time, everyone in the real world drove right by. And when Lizzie had had enough, she went in the house to cry. Because ‘family doesn’t count as customers.’ Because it wasn’t summer anymore. And because nobody stopped at her Art Stand.

I do not know the personal stories of the fifty or so people who sailed blithely by our house on Friday evening. Maybe one was a doctor en route to emergency surgery. Perhaps someone else had a woman about to give birth in the car. Still another might have needed to go straight home after a brutal week at work. I can think of a hundred reasons not to stop at a child’s roadside stand.

When I look at friends’ Facebook pages and Pinterest Boards, I am a sucker for the inspirational messages, PowerPoint slides and e-cards with sayings like, “Be the change you want to see in this world.” Or, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I love the words we use to inspire one another to be good people. But yesterday, I felt like waving a motivational sign of my own, with slightly coarser language. “Don’t be a d-bag. Stop and buy my kid’s drawing of a horse.” What good are words if they don’t inspire us to do something better?

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I went in the house to comfort Lizzie, and when she finally stopped crying, she agreed to come outside and clean up her sale. “We can try again another day,” I told her. She nodded and pulled the first picture down from the fence.

“Excuse me,” a voice said, and we both turned around. “Are you the artist?” Lizzie smiled shyly and nodded her head. “I was walking by when I saw these beautiful pictures. I just phoned my daughter and her friend. They love art. I know they would like to come to your sale, too.” This stranger perused my kid’s sketches, and moments later, two girls came around the corner carrying a piggy bank.

They inquired about the inspiration for the drawings, applauded Lizzie’s sense of color, line, and dexterity with crayons. They treated her like an artist. And between the three of them, they bought five pictures. Their names were Heather, Sophie, and Hannah, and in less than ten minutes, they restored my faith in all of humanity.

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Today, Lizzie was talking about renting a booth at the upcoming town carnival, so she can sell pictures, “to raise money for kitty cats who don’t have any food.” I don’t know if she and I will be feeding these stray cats or merely donating the money to a shelter, but I find myself excited by the possibility of shouting, “Art Sale!” to carnival-goers and passers by. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, please stop over.

Of course, you don’t have to stop at our sale. It could be any makeshift stand by the side of the road. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want lemonade, a Rice Krispies treat, or your car washed. Stop anyway. Be the change you want to see in this world. Make a kid’s day.

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Skool Daze

3 1/2 Hours

Three and a half hours is a lot of time. I could do almost anything.

I could get to the grocery store and buy everything we need, and not forget salt this time, or baking soda. Or milk. I could put all the food away. Even the ice cream. I could even prep dinner. Lasagna. I haven’t made lasagna in years – why not? Today is a day to cook….

OR

I could call my stylist and see if she could fit me in. I’ve worn my hair the same way since 1987. Maybe it’s time for a change. My right big toenail looks like it’s been chewed. I should throw in a pedi while I’m at it. If I get over there quickly enough, I could even squeeze in a massage….

OR

Jogging. I’ve been saying I want to get my figure back. Here’s my chance. With all this time, I could warm up, stretch, run, cool down. Really stick to a schedule this time. Keep track of my miles. Wear sunscreen. Where’s the armband I got for Christmas that year? The one that holds a phone just so. No worries. I don’t even need music. It can just be me, my thoughts, and the open road. Of course, these shoes aren’t the greatest. I should probably zip out super quick for a new pair. No use injuring myself the first time out. What about a hike? Or paddle boarding? I’m always saying I want to get out of town more. Or I could just go for a walk. Walking is good. All those Blue Zone people walk….

OR

But what about getting the house in shape? I finally have time to sweep and mop without the kids’ cereal interruptions. And the laundry. Is it me or do we have too many clothes? There are only seven days in a week. Why does my son have twenty-eight pairs of pants? I should really go through the kids’ closets. Get a bag going for the Salvation Army. Of course, I’ll need to move some of these toys. It looks like Iraq in the second bedroom. I tell them to clean up after themselves, and that I’m not their servant. Does it count if I just get the tidying started? Bag up some ratty stuffed animals and the toys under the bed. Except this is supposed to be my time. I should tackle my closet. Give away those oversized sweaters I’ve been carting around. And those overalls. Even if baggy clothes do make a comeback, is it really a look I want to rock?

OR

Eggs. I run around all morning. I never eat a good breakfast. No wonder I’m so tired. I’ll scramble some eggs, add some chives from the garden, a little salt. I think we still have some salad from last night. Brew coffee. Maybe even have a second cup. Brunch for one. I wish we still got a paper. I like the feel of newsprint in my hand, seeing if the market is up or down. I wonder what that NY Times food guy is working on now. I bet if I Google him, I can find that salmon recipe he did a few weeks back. It’s too hot for lasagna….

OR

With Henry in school two days a week, it is time to take the job search more seriously. I tell people I am a writer, but I make like $119 a month. Does that even qualify as a job? I have all these teaching degrees. What about going back part-time? Or there’s always nursing school. Nurses are such tough, steely people. I bet they don’t feed their kids cereal for dinner. Except if I get a real job, when will I volunteer in the kids’ classrooms? And what about that homeless lady at church? Will I forget to bring her sandwiches?

OR

Why all this pressure? Henry will be in school for nine months. I don’t have to figure it all out today. I’ll make some tea. Read a book. Maybe even sneak a nap. I haven’t napped since our camping trip. That was fun. We should camp more. I wonder when the kids are all off of school again….

***

I am not entirely sure what became of the three and a half blessed hours that my son spent at preschool today. I did not hike or nap or jog or shop or water the garden or interview for a job or fold any laundry.

These were the first 200 minutes I have had all to myself in many, many months, and I have almost nothing to show for it. I wrote a little, paid some bills, made a smoothie.  I froze in the face of all that possibility.

And I went over to the preschool 15 minutes early because I did not want to be late.  And because I missed him.

DadvMom.com_Threeandahalfhours_Henryfirstdaypreschool

Happy first day of preschool, Henry.

Maybe I’ll get my s*(^ together Thursday.

Maybe not.

Solidarity Brothers and Sisters

There Is Life After a Miscarriage

It has been four years since the miscarriage and I have never written a word.

It is not because of grief. I have been sad sometimes. But days here are full. I have the other children tumbling about.

It is not because I am shy. As writers go, I am confessional and self-effacing. I am not afraid to talk about fear or nakedness or the bald patch forming where I part my hair.

No, it is not sadness or timidity. I have not written about the miscarriage because I feel shame. I blame myself. I think maybe it was my fault.

I did not trampoline or drink wine. I did not use nasal spray or sneak sushi.

But I must have done something. Because that baby died inside of me, and I have kept it a secret for a long time.

Even the name itself—miscarriage—suggests fault. There was a misstep, misconduct, some miscalculation. I did not carry that child like I should have.

Was it the heavy trash bag I lifted? The bending over to tidy the living room? How I reached on my tippy toes for the potato chips above the fridge? I am haunted by the slip-up I will never know.

I am not usually euphoric at the start of my pregnancies. I am struck by how not pregnant I feel in those early weeks and months. There is no kicking, little heartburn, and I seldom suffer morning sickness.

But I was particularly attached to this unborn child. I found out I was pregnant the week my grandfather was dying. Aside from my husband, Grandpa Kel was the first person I told. He was unconscious at the time, his breathing labored, his skin feathery and pale. Hospice had already been called in. I sat by my grandfather’s bed, held his cool hand, and told him about the baby we were expecting. If he kept my secret, I said, maybe we would name it after him.

He did keep the secret. Grandpa died the next morning. Two months later, the baby died, too.

We planted an azalea after it was over. A beautiful coral one. When it flowered, my husband and I would sit on the front porch and remember the child that was ours for a bit and then wasn’t. When we sold that house, I agonized over whether to bring the small tree with us. The cross-country journey would be long, the truck hot. Would the new climate be a good fit? We did not want to destroy the only life we had left, our small symbol of what we lost. In the end, we left it.

But I think of him sometimes—in my mind it was a boy, though we never asked for sure—I think of our tree baby, alone in the yard of a stranger, and I know we made the wrong choice. We should have kept him with us, no matter the risk. We should have tried harder to make conditions right.

But, of course, we couldn’t. That’s the way it is with trees. And, sometimes, with pregnancies.

Bodies know. They know better than we do when to hold on and when to let go.

Families who have endured a miscarriage are seldom counseled through the process. This is the only loss we sweep under the rug. We tiptoe when we want to scream. My OB/GYN quietly cancelled my remaining appointments. I switched doctors soon after and never went back to that office again.

But I have carried the sorrow. I have been haunted by the child who never arrived. Our minivan could comfortably carry another. Tables are made for even-numbered families. When the sun shines on the empty seat in our breakfast nook, I swallow back grief.

So I speak today to anyone who has held this heartache:

You did not mis-carry anything. Your body chose this ending. Your body knew the path. It is okay to be sad and angry for as long as you need. But do not sit in silence. Do not weep in shame. Because this was not your fault.

This was never your fault.

 

 sunset behind darkened trees