Right there – those 3 beautiful babies fill my heart. I am proud of them. I want to share them with the world.
I remember the first time the question was asked. I sunk into my seat, fumbled through an answer, and then picked up the pieces of my heart one by one. It doesn’t matter how many times I’m asked the question it doesn’t get easier. I still stumble for an answer. Some situations the answer comes easier. And sometimes – I lie.
“How many children do you have?”
Seems like that should be an easy question but the first time I was asked that simple yet somehow startling question, after losing Nate, was in the Christmas season 2012. I remember sitting in a chair at the hair shop making small talk when it happened. As I discussed things like the weather with the hair dresser the obvious question of Christmas and gift shopping arose. Then, a moment I’ve never forgotten happened, as she asked “How many children do you have?”. I sat dumbfounded in my chair… how do I answer that question? My mind literally raced in circles in a matter of what felt like an hour, but was probably only seconds, as I tried to find the answer. If I say 3 then I have to follow it with our story but I don’t want to sit here sobbing awkwardly with someone I hardly know. Or I have to lie and pretend I had been Christmas shopping for Nate too but that just seems like torture for myself to let my mind go there. If I say 2, then I’m lying because I don’t have 2 children. I have 3 children that I am proud of and want to share to the world. One is in heaven. But, in that moment my heart could not handle telling our story to a near stranger so I said 2. I remember the rest of my appointment just sinking into my chair because I felt shame in that lie and wrestled with how I could have answered the question. It has never left me.
I’ve been asked the question many times over since then. I don’t remember it every time specifically but I answer differently depending on the circumstance. Sometimes I feel comfortable to share and sometimes it’s a passing conversation. On more than one occasion I have answered two children, then was followed with the completely average and normal question of asking how old they are. I have heard more than once about the age gap between my children or oh one boy and one girl you must be happy your family is completed. But because it’s not a conversation I need to have with everyone I meet sometimes I have to just smile, nod and move on. It’s funny how a stranger has no clue that what they are asking seems so wrong. They are not at fault. But my heart still feels the ache… every. single. time.
Just last week, I took Kaylee to have her toenails painted with me. As we sat, in the pedicure chairs, she relaxed in the chair beside me making herself totally at home and loving feeling like a big girl beside mommy. She looked at me with the biggest smile and love filled eyes as she got her toe nails painted and watched me. (Have I mentioned how much I love those kind of moments?!) Again, as the small talk began the question came…. “How many children do you have?” I have gotten to where I can read the circumstance pretty well by now and know how to answer even before it is asked but last week I was stumped again. I had Kaylee with me. I answered 2. Then as the nail tech turned to Kaylee to ask about her brother – my heart stopped. What would she say? We talk openly about Nate at home. Kaylee may only be 3 but she knows she has a brother in heaven that loved her. She talks about him and knows his face in a picture. She’s asked questions. She’s asked to visit him in heaven. So, in that moment, I again sunk into my chair as I waited for her answer. She sat shy and didn’t answer and as I realized I now have a new dilemma to figure out of how do I answer that question when Drew and Kaylee are with me.
I want to share all of my babies with the world. I want to tell everyone about Drew, Nate, & Kaylee at every corner as every mother does. Each are unique and special in their own ways. Each has a story to tell. But sometimes, my heart can’t handle it. Or better yet, I know the recipient of the conversation may not be prepared for the answer. Sometimes I can write so publicly here. I can share my deepest emotions, truths, stories, and literally let my heart out there but in my day to day life I just want to feel like the average family. I don’t always feel comfortable sharing our story with a stranger. Often, I prepare my heart and mind for those situations before they happen. I want the world to know of our love for Nate and his foundation but when the time is right. Through this walk of grief, the roads continue to wind. They don’t end or get easier - they just change direction.
All My Love,