Lillian and I were sitting on the floor playing today. She was playing with her very loud camera which periodically “breaks” so her Mama can hear herself think once again. With my legs in front of me she would fall over top of them diving head first into the carpet, camera in hand, giggling.
“Oh you fell down!” I would exclaim. I would then set her upright again and the game would go again and again.
Hearing her shriek with laughter made me smile. Her cheeks were pink from giggling and she had the biggest grin on her face. I scooped her up and buried my nose in her neck and sighed.
Oh how I need you, I heard my soul say.
I need her. I need to hear her giggle and know the smell of her neck. I need to see her grow and feel her soft cheek against mine when she cries. I need to know her, hear her, validate her and help her grow. I need her hugs and those open mouth kisses I adore. I need her to keep breathing and spend this lifetime with us.
However true that is in my heart the idea of it scares me. It scares me because I am not sure if it is a normal emotion for a Mama to have. Do I need her because of my loss? Do I need to love on her and tickle her, hear her giggle and see that smile because I know what it is like not to? I do not know. Will this need grow and change because it is a normal emotion of parenting? What if needing her is detrimental to us? I have seen examples of helicopter parents, driven by their own needs that drive their children away. I do not want her to need me the way I need her. It cannot be healthy. Parents rear children, that grow into adults and then live their own lives. At some point I need to stop…needing.
This is a murky part of parenting after loss. Do I stop needing when she pulls away? I want what is best for her and I know a mother immobilized with need is not what will help her flourish into the woman she will be. I find myself dwelling on those baby steps that she will take towards independence. Asking to play down the court with her friends, walking to school on her own, extra curricular’s, sleep overs, learning to drive and taking ownership of her actions as she grows into adulthood. I see how this need cycle will slowly draw out as she needs me less and I am aware I will have to be okay with that.
I do not want to impact her with my own need but I know nothing else. I only know parenting after loss. I only know the reality that says babies die. A scary place that says at any moment everything could go wrong. Something as simple as a fever and I think to myself that I better make sure the house is perfectly clean in case we have to call the paramedics. It is true! That is where my brain goes. And that is need. Needing her to live and not trusting that she will. Need that comes to the surface and rules my thoughts because of loss.
Trauma, loss and need intermix and it makes me ever aware that my parenting experience is not “normal.” I have no idea what normal is but I do know not everyone cleans the house for the paramedics when their kid spikes a fever. People are brave and brazen, letting their 7 year old ride the NYC subway alone. They say things like “have faith” and “oh nothing bad will happen” and actually believe them. I am not that Mama. I am not an innocent person. I am learning as I go how to balance my needs with hers and I just hope I do not completely screw it up.
Maybe we should just agree to pay for the therapy she may need now.