I took E to the playground this morning. If you've inferred from the title of this post that it was a bad idea, you'd be 100% correct.
We dropped C off at the airport early today--E was very much under the impression that he, himself, was going on the airplane, too. Much to his dismay, he wasn't. So, to ease the disappointment, I decided a trip to the playground was a second best. It was a playground day like any other--sunny, cool, a handful of other little ones running around, moms standing in the background.
Here's where my day started to go off the rails. While pushing E on the swing, another young mom of a 2 year old boy pushed her son next to us. She asked if I was having another boy, I replied I didn't know--yadda yadda, the usual. She was super nice and friendly, and, like I've said before, to anyone else, I'm just a normal mother of a toddler with a baby on the way.
She asked how far apart they'd be. In my head I kept thinking, "Well, E is 18 months older than his dead sister, and will be, hopefully, fingers crossed, if all goes well, 29 months older than this one." I just said 29 months out loud, though.
Did I mention her son was 2, and she had a 3 month old in tow?
Anyway, later her friend joined her, also with a 2 year old boy and, ooh, looky looky, an infant GIRL this time! Great. Again, she was incredibly nice and friendly, asked if we knew what we were having--no, don't know yet, maybe next week, blah blah blah.
"Do you want a boy or a girl?"
Again, in my head all I could think was, "Well, I already have a living boy and a dead girl, so really, I don't care as long as it's alive." I stammered something about "either way we'll be happy, uhhh, yeah, um . . . " and then ran after E as he clambered up the climbing wall.
All the while we were there I'd been keeping my eye on the huge pile of dog poop some jackass left ON THE PLAYGROUND--rage for another time. As I was talking to these nice girls, I was paying more attention to: not passing out, not appearing to be an overprotective nincompoop of a parent as I made sure E didn't fall, and keeping up with the conversation than I was to the whereabouts of the poop.
Do I need to tell you I stepped right in it as I was talking? While wearing flip flops? After telling everyone else at the playground where it was?
Can I tell you that I find it impossible to be upset by these questions? Rattled, at a loss for words, saddened by the unspoken answers, yes. But I can't be mad. I don't feel hurt. I feel, truly, like a poser. Almost as though I'm having an out-of-body experience: I'll let the surface-level me answer these questions, pretend I'm who they think I am. Because that's all they can see. Its not fair that they don't know, but what can I do?
As I digest the morning, I realize more and more how much of a wallop my self-esteem has taken since Calla died. I find myself feeling like a seventh-grade wallflower in nearly every social situation. I feel inferior and incapable around other parents, introverted and shy around any adult. If you know me personally, you realize this is the complete OPPOSITE of my actual personality. I'm the kind of person who normally finds herself talking to just about anyone: vagrants, shop owners, strangers in elevators, people's pets. Now, I feel like nothing I have to say is worth listening to, anything that falls out of my mouth is sheer idiocy.
I watched as the other young mothers let their boys play. They even let them go ON THE BIG SLIDE! I follow E around that playground, waiting to catch him should he fall, shooing him from the huge slide, "helping" when he can do things himself. I need to back off.
I think the most pervasive emotion to filter its way through the fallout is fear. Fear of losing my living child. Fear of dropping into the abyss of despair. Fear of sucking as a parent. Fear of sucking as an adult. Fear of caring too much. Fear of everyone knowing who I really am.
5 months ago tonight we went to the hospital to have our lives irreversibly changed. I miss Calla so much, yet am so fearful it was all a dream.