Good Mother

good mother

There is a terrific rant currently going viral around Australian social media networks celebrating all kinds of different mothers and encouraging us to stop judging others and ourselves.  Em Rusciano reminds that we are all good mothers – even if our parenting styles look different.  You can read the article here.

It made me think about the judgements we place on ourselves as bereaved mothers.  In general, the child loss community is fantastically supportive and kind.  It would be a very small minority that would judge the way another is grieving.  However, I think we often judge our own grief and the way we mother our angels.  I look at those that honour their angels through setting up projects, raising incredible amounts for their chosen charity or those that have set up their own charities and wonder if my way of mothering Xavier is adequate.   Should I be doing more for my little boy?   When my tears don’t flow as freely, and I am having several good days in a row, I wonder, “Should I not be hurting more for my precious baby?”    Yet, I have had people mention to me that they look at the creative things I do for Xavier and they wonder if they are doing enough in that space for their angel.  Others long to get to a gentler place in the grief.

Figuring out how to the best mother you can be is difficult.  Figuring out how to be the best mother to a child no longer in your arms is even more so.  We look at those around us for inspiration and sometimes come away feeling inadequate.  We put enormous strain on our already strained selves to do beautiful and wondrous things for our children.  When really, breathing each day, getting up, or deciding to just stay in bed is wondrous when you have lost a piece of your heart.  So, taking inspiration from Em’s new rules for motherhood, I wrote a set that apply to the bereaved mother.

1. Do you raise money, create, write, dream or paint in your child’s memory? – Good Mother

2. Are your tears the greatest testament to your love? – Good Mother

3. Do you get up and face the day even with your broken heart? – Good Mother

4. Do you stay in bed and cry for your lost love? – Good Mother

5. Do you embrace the things you have learned in your grief and find  peace? – Good Mother

6. Do you rage each day at the unfairness of a universe that stole your child? – Good Mother

7.  Do you love, grieve and miss them each and every day, no matter when they last were in your arms and make no apologies for doing so? – Good Mother

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Reclaiming Motherhood

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.