Just When You Think You’re In The Clear…

…you realize you are not.

I really clicked into the groove of loving our life this summer. I mean, really enjoying every moment of it. I’ve been making things pretty: our walkway is now lined with Gerber daisies and a brand-new gorgeous flag is flying. I’ve been taking pride in doing the dishes and laundry, cooking (mostly), decorating the kids’ rooms, designing the basement, and mostly just enjoying my children: hugging them and laughing at their stories, being dazzled by their talents (my son built a helicopter meant for a 7 year old all by himself, my daughter’s beautiful and capricious dancing is making her a star in her ballet class) and best of all: clowning around with them to Psy’s silly horse dance. Darcy and I have had a really nice time together this summer, whether working in the kitchen (I’m the sous chef) or just really focusing on appreciating each other. He’s as much of a romantic hero as ever: he has planned a BIG adventure coming up to commemorate our 10th wedding anniversary. More to come…

So, I was surprised by a few developments lately.

1) The round of third pregnancy announcements. The preschool is a bit of a land mine-littered road: everywhere I look are the emails announcing the birth to a school family of a third child, or the pregnant bellies of women expecting their third. For some reason, this triggers the ache, the pain of remembering we lost our dream of a third child when I miscarried two years ago. It’s the reminders. I would hardly think of that loss except for the reminders. But sometimes, there’s just a strong ache for a baby: I just want a soft and sweet and downy-headed little one to snuggle and feed and hold. My SIL is due to give birth any moment, so I’m hoping being an aunt (for the first time!) might be a consolation prize.

2) The relics. I was putting clean socks into my sock drawer when I unexpectedly touched the rough grain of paper. It was an envelope with our ultrasound photos in it, from that last pregnancy. I started crying, even though I thought I had let go of that loss. I’m hoping Saying Goodbye comes to the US. I think I could really benefit from one of their services.

I guess these reminders never leave us completely. What I can hope is that they affect me less as time goes on. And I really do believe that the more beauty I can see in my own life, the more wonderful it will become.

That’s what I’m banking on, anyway.

Do you find focusing on the positives help you sustain a happier existence?

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19 Comments

Filed under Parenting After IF

19 responses to “Just When You Think You’re In The Clear…

  1. Yes yes yes! It’s the only way I can get thru te bad times.

  2. Absolutely. I am pretty sure that choosing to focus on the positive is the very definition of happiness.

  3. You have seemed very happpy lately. It is great to see (also great to see are all the pictures you’ve shared). I suppose there will always be reminders of the negatives in life (surprising that so many people are having 3rd kids, though), but having so many positives should help us not to dwell. I like to make lists of good things when I’m down, challenging myself to reach a set number. It helps.

  4. Sometimes it comes out of the blue, doesn’t it?

    I read an expert recently declare that “looking on the bright side” or “seeing the cloud’s silver lining” is not the path to happiness. But pausing to notice truly positive experiences (noticing good things rather than looking for good in the bad things), and acting to increase the number of truly positive experiences in your life, can really help. Fine distinction maybe, but it made a lot of sense to me.

    • ana

      I really like this, makes sense to me, too. I think trying to turn negatives into positives (yea! the sewer line broke…so happy we have indoor plumbing!, etc…) just takes to much energy & never really sits right. But focusing my attention on what IS going well in life (or even just trying to notice & remember the brief glimpses of magic in a mundane, exhausting day), while acknowledging that there are rough patches as well, does make me happier.

  5. Wow, this lines up pretty well with the current PAIL monthly theme (guilt & grieving), so it’s right where my head is at. Maybe something about the fall and changing over of the summer as it moves towards winter gets us into this headspace. I know it does for me.

    Preschool is SUCH an emotional landmine. Granted, I haven’t sent my kids off to one (and if I end up homeschooling, I probably won’t) but I’ve been around enough with various child-related jobs to be familiar. They contain an endless revolving door of the following characters & conversations:

    * kids with pregnant moms (because if you are normally fertile your 3- or 4-year-old is your first or second child, you might be “due” for another one spaced out juuuust right)
    * kids with brand-new tiny wrinkly baby siblings who show up at pick-up for the first time, and everyone gathers around and coos, and proud big brother or big sister spends the next eight hours telling you all about the baby and how cute/smelly/loud it is (see above parenthetical aside)
    * pregnant teachers
    * people who are very focused in on the “kid zone” and who are, often, making new friends because they have just the one 3-year-old and no mommy friends and this and the park are the two places you meet them, so you make small chit-chat which is all kid-related because that’s what you have in common so far, and all The Questions start coming out like “Do you have any others at home? Plans for more? You’ve got one of each; you can be done!”
    * you’re already navigating dealing with your babies being Not Babies Anymore and going to school and doing big-kid stuff and maybe potty training hardcore to get into school, which just polarizes you from that baby world even more
    * for IFers who had children “later” because IF ate up a whole bunch of your late 20s and early 30s, there’s the “wow, I am ten years older than half these women” factor as well (of course, this also applies to moms who waited for other intentional or unintentional reasons to have children until later in their reproductive years)

    It’s a test of fortitude if ever there was one. I will not be sad to skip right over it, if I can.

  6. ana

    Yes, absolutely! And the more I notice & acknowledge the good things, the bigger “store” I have in my head, that help me weather through the rough times.

  7. I’m so glad you had an awesome summer. And reading about your grief, I just wish I were there to hug you and tell you it’s okay to be sad sometimes.

    I think it does help, I am happy to say, now that I’ve declared my huge positive–no more trying!! I have felt light as air this week, and I know I will for the foreseeable future.

  8. I hope you can use the services of Saying Goodbye too. It seems like such an amazing service.

    Sorry about the round 3 pregnancies in your face. It’s been suggested that I read the chapter on handling other people’s pregnancy news in Al.ice Dom.ar’s book Conque.ring Inf.ertility. Maybe it’ll help?

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the general population was more sensitive with how they announce these things? Obviously, it’s hard to avoid the in-your-face bellies, but it’s a pain (literally) none the less.

  9. I can’t wait to hear what the big adventure is. Sounds like you are having lots of perfect moments lately, perfectly ordinary and delicious moments. These are what our fondest memories are made of.

    I don’t exactly focus on the positive because that means I’m kind of pushing away the negative. And whatever I push against gains power.

    Instead, I try to focus on the present. When I do that I find contentment.

  10. Asolutely! And focusing on the positive is hard for me because I am a realist – I take in the odds, the sad stories, and I’m curious. I am not one of those blissfully unaware people so focusing on the bliss in my own life can be a tough task. BUT – I do find that it helps to focus on the positive and let the negatives go, as much as possible anyway. I tell myself there’s nothing that can be done about the negatives (if they’re things that lie in the past) and that they got me to where I am – so I need to appreciate them for what they are. That is true – all the shitty aspects of my life helped build the foundation for the positive present that I’m living. That’s a good thing!

  11. May

    Alas, pretty much everyone who has ever told me to my face to ‘think positive!’ and ‘look on the bright side!’ has meant ‘shut up about your grief, it’s making me feel awkward!’ or ‘I don’t have enough compassion and empathy to deal with your sorrow!’. They have inevitably been the ones who belittled my losses and who have been embarrassed and unsympathetic about my health-problems. So I get an eyelid twitch when the subject of focussing on the positives come up.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful concept, that of looking at the beautiful and heartwarming things in life, appreciating them, abiding in those delightful moments, making sure you leave your life open to them, seeking them out, being loving and humourous and enthusiastic. Which makes it doubly unkind to take that thing of beautiful strength and INSIST that a person is Doing It Wrong if they’re ALSO seeing the sadness, or remembering the loss. And it’s cruel to push it at someone who is so sad they can’t see past the loss. Basically, looking for the positive is something someone should do for themselves, when they are ready. It is absolutely NOT something anyone should ever say to someone else. It comes across far too much like blame, and diminishing the other’s suffering.

    Trying to focus solely on the positives, after a while, made me feel like I was lying to myself and living a thin, shallow existance, skimming over the top of life and refusing to engage. The positives are so much MORE positive for having the courage to dwell in and honour the negatives too. It’s when you get stuck in one outlook and can’t acknowledge the other, for yourself or other people, that it all goes wrong.

    I am thinking of you and your little lost one. The poor little mite had one thing going for it – it was loved, it is remembered.

  12. The reminders can come at you at any time. But yes, it does help to notice the good that’s going on in life. To appreciate what you have and try to live in the present moment which is far from easy.

  13. I have those moments of sudden grief as well. As time goes on, they become less overwhelming, but they definitely happen.

    I haven’t found that focusing on the positive really helps. It feels dishonest to act as if life is different from the way that it really is. Rather, I try to give myself space to feel sad when I need to, but to also try to do practical things to try to make life happier on an everyday basis. That does help.

  14. I do find it helps to be mindful of the positive things in my life, or paying attention to those perfect moments, but it’s also something I find very difficult sometimes. Sometimes you just have to let yourself be sad. Otherwise you don’t have anything to put the happy in perspective.

  15. There`s nothing wrong with moments of sadness – you`re allowed. You lost a child – that hole in your heart – it never really goes away, but you can still be satisfied with your life. Like others, I try to just recognize those wonderful moments in life for what they are. It gives me hope.

  16. Even if they don’t have a “Saying Goodbye” service per se, I am willing to bet that, in the SF area, there are pregnancy loss support groups who will be holding some sort of remembrance ritual as Oct. 15th & the holiday season approach. I always loved our group’s memorial events — Walk to Remember in the fall, holiday candlelighting and summertime butterfly release.

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