lesbian mom · mom of boys

Moments that Make a Parent

We made it through Christmas. I hosted family here Christmas eve, had an asthma exacerbation requiring a lot of steroids and breathing treatments, croup in one of my kids with stridor at 1:30 AM….my wife then got diagnosed with Influenza A…and the list of fun goes on!

Overall Christmas Eve was a lot of work but nice and Christmas morning was fun even though I was exhausted and couldn’t breathe. That night found me standing outside holding my son while he took deep gasping breaths in the cold air waiting for the coughing and breathing to ease. I wore a long sleeve t-shirt and my underwear. It was freezing.

I heard a loud seal cough and that gasping raspy inhale from down the hallway. I didn’t think about getting some sweatpants on. I just grabbed him and carried him down the stairs and outside.

My wife brought him a popsicle and eventually his breathing eased enough that we could go inside into the warmth. I remember thinking as he was clutching his arms and legs around me and resting his chin on my shoulder that this moment is one of those parenting moments.

It’s done in the dead of night. Freezing cold. I didn’t freak out because I treated a lot of kids over the years for croup. Always the same thing. Bring them out into the cold air and/or give them a popsicle. If they still have stridor, then bring them into the emergency department.

I knew the drill. I wasn’t scared. I was exhausted yes. Fighting my own asthmatic cough yes. Freezing yes.

That moment you get to be the rock. Adulting in a way that provides a safe space for your kid when they can’t breathe and they are scared and have no idea what’s going on or what to do for themselves.

As they get older we get fewer and fewer of these moments.

I remember thinking of my Dad in that moment. I thought Christmas would be really hard without him this year. It wasn’t easy. But I was not overcome with heavy grief the whole time. It was more intermittent pangs. It wasn’t until I held my son, all 43 lbs of him, in twenty degree weather waiting for his breathing to ease. Rubbing his back and telling him he would be fine.

That’s when I missed my Dad. Because I would never have a moment where he could be my rock ever again.

It’s not always the big holidays that bubble up the grief of losing a parent. It’s those small, unsung moments, where I’m the Mama and my son needs me. Knowing if I ever need my Dad, I won’t have him there.

So many of my friends have lost their parents this year. My facebook feed filled up with beautiful family photos in front of big Christmas trees, with captions like, “Merry Christmas, Miss you Ma,” or “Missing my Dad this Christmas, blessed to have my children to keep me busy.”

Somehow I’ve reached the age where many of us have young children, and many of us are losing parents. It’s not what I imagined the defining feature of age 34 would be, but here we are.

Losing my parent has made me grateful for these moments as a parent. I want them to be instilled in my kid’s memories. These moments that I was their safety net. I want them ┬áto have those so that when I am gone one day, hopefully many years from now, they will find themselves with their own kids and remember how I made them feel.

Safe, protected, and loved. If that is the legacy my Dad left me and I leave to them to pass on to their own kids; then I think we are doing alright. The grief becomes almost easier to bear because I know I’m passing him on to them in the best way I can.

 

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My First Dad-less Memorial Day (And Power-Washing and hot yoga).

This Memorial Day I didn’t think would be a big deal. I thought it would be like all the of the past ones that I’ve experienced. But while I was power washing the cement around my pool (and yes that was an amazing experience and firmly cemented the fact that I’m an adult because I love power-washing) and painting the fence I missed my Dad.

I keep promising myself and I keep trying to sit down and write blog posts about something other than my Dad but I always come back to him. It’s been just under eight weeks since his death and I did not think that Memorial Day of all weekends would be hard. But it was.

He loved the power-washer. He loved to paint. He would have laughed so hard at Jackson running and peeing directly in the walkway to the pool. He would have helped me power-wash and we would have squabbled over pretty much everything that day because we both would have wanted to be doing the power-washing not the fence.

I also remembered every single Memorial Day parade I marched in with him and all the parades I saw him march in.

I walked into work this morning and the woman who is in the office down the hall from mine said “Hi,” and I burst into tears. She didn’t quite know what to do because we don’t generally have that type of relationship but she gave me a hug and we talked about my Dad.

I was with my Mom and sister and our kids and spouses all weekend also which was good. But it was such a keen absence. I thought Father’s Day would be hard or his birthday and Christmas. Never did I envision falling to pieces over Memorial Day.

This is the stuff our society doesn’t talk about. The grief that is ever present and unpredictable. I had been doing well. But little by little this weekend wore me down. Worst of all I couldn’t make it to hot yoga until today. Where I cried during the end meditation quietly.

It clears my head though and I landed this sweet arm balance recently and one of my instructors loves this particular arm balance and I knew she would be stoked about it and she was. She put it in about four times tonight. I know yoga’s not about the arm balances. But for me it’s about the journey I’ve taken to get into that arm balance.

Eighteen months of building my core and my triceps got me into that arm balance.

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Arm balance. My head is not on the ground.

Last week one of my teenage clients who is hard to engage sometimes; well I showed them the arm balance. In dressy jeans, my Dad’s pink button down, and heels. It broke the ice. We talked about transformations and moving into something slowly and learning that in the hardest poses the greatest transformations happen.

I admit I am shameless and will do literally anything to get a teenager to talk to me in therapy.

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My Dad’s pink button-down

It was in these arm balances tonight I thought about my Dad and Memorial Day and power-washing. I realized I needed to write another blog post about it. I tried very hard to write one about farts and hot yoga, but it just kept falling flat even though I know there is a hilarious post in there somewhere about farts and hot yoga. I mean how could there not be?

But it will have to wait. Wait for the grief to lift and for me to exhaust myself with thoughts about my Dad.

 

 

** Picture for the article is my wife and Declan. Just a candid shot I got of them this weekend when Declan needed a hug. Be still my heart!