It’s an innocent question.
Not meant to do anything other than start up or continue a conversation.
And, it’s a question we get a lot.
“How many kids do you have?”
“Oh, you just have one girl?”
“Just the one girl, huh?”
“Wow, all boys?”
“3 boys and one girl?”
A while ago, Trinity was standing with me at a checkout counter. The clerk noticed a couple of Trinity’s brothers and said “oh, you’re the only girl?!”
Trinity glanced toward me to see what I would say, if anything. I smiled and nodded to let her know that she could answer this question how she felt comfortable.
She answered quietly “yes.”
Recently, Leeland was a guest at a birthday party. I overheard another mom talking to him, sweetly asking about his siblings. How old is your brother? Oh, you have two brothers? How old is your sister? So, you’re the baby?
That’s when he looked over to me for approval. How should he answer this? He’s NOT the Baby of our family. Mary-Linda is the baby and she’s in heaven and that’s not something that we feel we need to tell everyone in every situation.
So, I gave him the same look I gave Trinity. The “whatever you feel comfortable sharing is okay” look.
He answered her sweetly by nodding “yes” he is the baby.
One morning a few weeks ago, I was at a breakfast meeting. I noticed another group of moms meeting. And one baby in a carrier. I don’t know how old the baby was, but I thought for a second, that could have been me, if Mary-Linda was still with me…the person we were meeting with started the conversation by asking us all how many kids we have.
One by one we answered. I felt the tension well up inside me. I said four. In this instance I had just met the woman and may have more encounters with her in the future. I just didn’t feel like sharing.
Later that same morning, I was in a totally different setting and was asked how many kids I have by someone who I have just started getting to know over the last couple of months. So, this time I mentioned losing Mary-Linda in August. I said “We have four living children and well, you may have heard, but we lost our baby daughter in August- when I was 4.5 months pregnant.” The conversation continued. I cried. She cried. It was sweet and tender and appropriate for where our relationship is headed, as we become better friends. Mary-Linda is not a secret. She’s our daughter, who just happens to be in heaven.
Please don’t misconstrue this post to mean we shouldn’t ask people about their kids. It’s just something to keep in mind, as you meet people and get to know others. There are so many things we don’t know about other’s lives.
As a dear friend of mine often says “everybody has stuff.” It’s true. We can’t walk around on egg shells, worried that we might uncover their “stuff” and know them beyond the surface level.
Would that be so bad? Of course not. But, I think it’s important to think about this as we approach Mother’s Day. This can be a very tough time for many. Those who long to have living children, those who are mothers to children in heaven, those who have lost their mothers, those who have found other ways to mother those they love. This can be a very painful day for many different reasons.
I meet with a loss support group once a month, organized by MEND- Mother’s Enduring Neonatal Death. MEND shared these 5 suggestions today on their facebook page. I would add- don’t assume that since you know someone a little that you know everything important there is to know about them. And most importantly, communicate. Talk. Ask your loved one what their boundaries are and respect them. For me personally, I want to talk about and think about my baby girl, Mary-Linda on Mother’s day and every day. So, if you happen to see me…you will make me smile to let me know that you have not forgotten our little angel girl. Our sweet Magnolia flower in heaven. Mary-Linda Elizabeth.
Happy Mother’s Day, friends.
Sending much love and prayers for you all. May grace and peace be yours this May.
Always Your Mother
Mother’s Day 2018
From before the moment I knew
you were mine
you were loved
perfect and tiny
beautiful little dancer
oh how you danced
fluttered like a butterfly
strong like no other
you were taken from us in a moment
in an instant
you were gone
and yet, you linger still
the love you shared with us all
your siblings, your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins
we all miss you so
and thank God for you
your little life
goes on and on
Now, you are in the arms of Jesus
And, I’m here, joining you from my place on earth
I hope you hear me when I sing with you
I hope you know me and know how much I love you
Do you know your mother?
I long for the day I can hold you
to see your beautiful eyes open
our beautiful Magnolia flower in heaven
Our Mary-Linda Elizabeth
gone too soon