The other day I was enjoying a beautiful brunch outing with some other mothers. They had their first children in their laps – from newborn to 18 months. We talked about the things mothers talk about. Sleeping, eating, toilet training, breast feeding, weaning, husbands, careers, having more children, facing bikini season. As the only one with more than one child, I fell into advice giving. It’s not something I am very comfortable with. No-one likes a mummy-know-it-all. Besides, I have always, always believed that mothers who trust their own instincts never go too far wrong.
Until one does. I trusted every instinct with Xavier and he didn’t survive. You know those Facebook memes where the mother hails her day a success because she’s kept all the children alive? You can’t imagine how much they hurt. The old adage that you don’t need to be a perfect mum, you just need to be enough, that stings as well.
And so sitting and dispensing advice makes me feel fraudulent. I can’t help but wonder, why would these women want advice from me? They have their beautiful children surrounding them, loving them, touching them. Do they nod politely and inside think “at least I can keep my child alive.” I know my friends, and I am sure that this thought wouldn’t pass into their heads, but it could and I would understand if it did.
When I expressed these feelings to N, he hugged me gently and said “What happened to Xavier and your abilities as a mother have absolutely nothing to do with one another. You are the best mother I know.” Coming from the best father I know – that did restore my faith somewhat.
Isaac is a beautiful boy of nearly five. Boisterous but as well-behaved as you can expect any five year old boy to be. He is full of life and colour and imagination. He is fun to be around. He cares for those around him. He is a credit to his father and I. He is proof that I can mother.
Elijah is adorable and wonderful. Every moment I spend with him is precious. I love everything about taking care of him. Even at 4am in the morning, I cannot help but be filled with excitement that this precious little baby is mine! He is proof that I can mother.
Xavier remains an integral part of our family. I talk about him fearlessly. I love him through space and time. I try to make his memory accessible to other people in a positive way. He is proof that I can mother in the most extraordinarily difficult of circumstances.
I lost my baby to SIDS and I am still a good mother.