Perfect Parenting?

June 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Posted in Grief, mourning, parents, twins | 8 Comments
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Did you ever see the movie Sliding Doors?  Gwyneth Paltrow, pre country music singing career, plays a woman whose entire life changes based on catching a train.  Her life is portrayed in the movie both as if she caught the train and as if she did not. 

I wish I could know what kind of parent I would be if Jake and Sawyer had not died.  I wish I could see my life both ways, in parallel.  And okay, I wish I could just pick the life that did not include either of them dying.

However, here in reality I know I do not get those wishes and I can not watch both options in parallel (nor will I become a country music singer).  So I must try to be the best parent I can be and accept that I will not be perfect.

Alice Wisler wrote Parenting Through a Glass Partition — After the Death of a Child.   Her son Daniel, died from cancer treatments in 1997 at the age of four. She wrote: 

“At the fast food restaurant, my children laugh in the play area as I sit drinking coffee behind the glass partition that separates the play area from the dining section. While I have hugged them so tightly their tonsils could pop out, I am still, much of the time, finding myself watching them from a distance. They are mine but so was Daniel, and in the course of a moment I know they could be gone, as he is.” 

After Jake died I could not imagine being a parent to a child who came home with us.  After the twins were born and did come home, it dawned on me that I was so focused on making sure that they were not premature that I had not considered actually being a parent.  Parts of me want (and may always want) to wrap them up in a bubble wrap and protect them from the world.  The wiser, perhaps more jaded part of me knows that no matter what I do I will not be able to protect them from every thing.

Sawyer was full term but did spend some time in the NICU.   I did keep myself at a distance.  I could not visit the NICU for long.  Once Sawyer was released from the NICU I felt incredibly guilty that I did not visit him more.  I also felt incredibly lucky that he came home with us. 

Being a parent (bereaved or not) is bittersweet, frustrating, exhausting and amazing all at the same time.  Would I be more patient, appreciative and understanding if Jake and Sawyer were here?  Would I be less bitter and more sweet?  Has grief made me a more aware and loving parent?  I will never know.  Right now all I know is that I will keep trying.


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  1. You are a wonderful mother and I only wish that you had gotten more time on this earth to mother Jake and Sawyer. xo

  2. It is what I hope…I wrote in my journal last night that I wish I would do all of the things I now think about for my sweet Angel if she were here. But at this point the tightest hug I could muster would be my hearts desire. I do know what is important is where we go from here…?

    God bless you,

  3. Well, being your friend while you have had to go thru all of this has certainly made me be a better, more present Mom. When the small, silly things happen that really frustrate me – I sometimes take a breath and think ‘this is not a big deal’. And so I am more patient and loving. And maybe sometimes too a bit scared of the ‘what if’s’…. and many a night I go back in for one last kiss.

  4. You continue to amaze yourself and others with what a strong mother you are everyday. Hopefully, as you continue moving forward, you’ll be able to separate yourself further from the “what ifs”, and move into the “what’s next”–and all the joys and challenges that life brings.

  5. I think that must be what parenting is — always keep trying.

  6. Lanie – This is a great post! Your insights and your doubts are all of a piece and you express it so well! You have the right to ask all the questions that you do ask and now you are also recognizing that these questions don’t have answers and that you will just carry on and move forward. I wish you and the rest of your family much joy in being together. I wish you and Evan much success in raising Fletcher and Alyssa and I wish that you all will share much happiness.
    With love and admiration.

  7. Thanks for quoting from my article!

    Thanks for sharing from your journey.

    ~ Alice, author of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, a new book on grief and loss

  8. […] am always joking that I wish I could wrap the twins up in bubble wrap to protect them from the world.  Well, the other weekend they wrapped themselves up. . […]

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