Last night I climbed into bed with Gwenevere and Micah to read books. It's our nighttime routine and we always read at least six books. I gathered up several books and set them down on the bed next to my daughter. The book on top was titled "We Were Going To Have a Baby, But We Had An Angel Instead". Gwenevere saw the book and she started to whine. "Mommy no! I don't like that book, it's too sad". I swallowed the lump in my throat and I set the book on the floor and picked up "Green Eggs and Ham" instead.
Overall I would consider myself to be a very confident parent. I have a degree in Child Development and I have worked with infants and toddlers for over a decade. I am trained in infant and child CPR and I when it comes to cranky kids I know all the tricks. Since the day we brought Gwenevere home from the hospital I have been confident that Micah and I are doing a good job. This is not to say that I don't have my doubts and concerns like every other parent, I do. I also know that we are good parents and we are doing the best we can. When Penelope and James died I found myself for the first time really doubting my parenting skills.
I don't know what is appropriate to share with toddlers when it comes to death. I know that I wouldn't want to lie about it, but I also don't want to instill a sense of fear. Everyone dies, that's the truth. Somehow that seems like a pretty intense concept to teach a two year old. I want my daughter to know that she has a brother and sister. I want her to know how much they are loved and missed. I don't want her to think that it's bad to talk about them because it makes her Mommy cry. I just don't know what to do.
Micah and I decided that even though James and Penelope are dead they are still part of our family. We have pictures of them in our house, we even have them in our house (in urns). Gwenevere has named two of her stuffed animals after them. We talk about them and sometimes cry. I feel like I don't really know how to grieve in front of my own child, but I'm doing the best I can. I want her to understand that it's okay to cry when we are sad. I know she will never feel the sadness that I feel for them. She won't miss them the same way that I do. She may never even understand.
I feel like it's a constant balancing act. I want to keep the memory alive of my son and daughter, but I also want to be a good Mom that is present for my living child. Most days I get through without crying now. But some days I cry. When I do cry I can see a look of concern in Gwenevere's eyes. That makes me sad. I am the parent, she shouldn't have to worry about me. I don't know if what we're doing is really what's best, but it's all we know. Gwenevere has a brother and sister that died and I am not going to pretend like they were never here. Like every other parent, I am trying my best.