Today is Alexander's due date.
Theo slept in until 8:30am (after going to bed at 9:45pm, and waking at 5:45am and then being put back down - so that's considered a "good" night for us) and I got to sleep in too. As a few notifications went off on my phone around 9am when I was feeding Theo his breakfast, it was only then that it dawned on me that it was February 18th. You'd think I'd be watching this day like a hawk, but no, it's next Friday that I've had my eye all month long.
I felt a slow pace to my day - it's so rare that tea isn't brewing and breakfast isn't in gear before 7am. But in feeling the lag I felt in my day, I still felt that stir. That stir that there is something MORE to this day. That sore spot that stays protected and shielded from the every day world was some how peeking out, wanting some air time.
As I walked Theo to school, a post was fluttering about in my head. When I would get Theo down for a nap today, I would try to get a post about Alexander's baby shower(s) started. Search through pictures and upload them to blog.ger and start forming some heartfelt entries about how my heart was exploding for the arrival of this perfect boy.
I got so school late - 11:30am, where normally I'm there by 9:30-10am - and I had missed gym time, snack time and story time which all take place from 10-11am. A few parents where packing up their kids and said goodbye to Kim, the ECE teacher who staffs our drop-in pre-school program at our local public school. I overhead one grandmother say to Kim, "I don't know if I'll see you again" and I starting asking this grandmother where SHE was going. And that's when I heard the news. Kim was leaving. She was being transferred to another school downtown closer to where she lives. Kim then went on to fill me in that it was by her choice and she had put the request in a few times in the past year hoping for the opening at this particular school. I then scanned the room and noticed that there had been tears shed. Red eyes and puffy faces from a few of the regular mom's who I know have been going there for 5+ years, once taking their older children who are now in grade school. And you know what? I wanted to cry too. Right there as I sat at a kiddy chair next to the sand table Theo was scooping around in, I wanted to cry. My eyes did well up a bit as I talked with Kim about how NEXT TUESDAY is her last day.
She really is a great teacher. She's so involved with the kids, and makes effortless, comfortable social interaction possible with all the parents - old and new. She's friendly and real. She made me feel right at home when I started taking Theo there in November 2014. I really felt like I hit the jackpot with this place. It's drop-in Monday - Thursday, 8:45am-1:45pm. Kim has the class set up so well, and she's put a lot of her own money into all the activities and toys provided. She does play-doh, painting, water and sand tables, arts and craft stations with tons of stickers/scissors/finger paints/crayons/markers and all other craft ins and outs included. There are puzzles and magnets, kitchen sets, doll houses, pretend cribs and babies, books and toy bins until your toddler heart's content and so much more. I've been going there for 4 months, and I'm STILL finding toys and activities that are "new" to me. Kim keeps it clean and is ON TOP OF parents and care givers to do the same. That's kind of my style, because I like to stay on top of people for that stuff too.. and I didn't feel too much like a big mouth in doing so because that's Kim's style. It's free and it's part of the school systems here in Ontario, so there's no doubt that if the wrong person is in charge, a place like this can get taken advantage of by absent-minded parents and destructive children. But Kim is good. The way we wish all teachers and public school staff were, she's that kind of good. And it is reflected in her class. And she does a KICK-ASS story time, always changing it up and keeping it interesting with songs and books, classic and new. I literally ran to school with the stroller last Thursday because I didn't want to miss it.
I've connected a bit with Kim on a person level too. She has a 16 and an 11 year old, girl and boy. Her son, Jack, didn't sleep. EVER. (Still to this day she tells me he wakes at 5AM if the wind blows the wrong way!). She shared with me on so many quiet mornings back in December when attendance was low and it was just us and a few other families there, that sleep with Jack was a different, and life altering experience. It is really rare for me to find parents who get it. I know we're all tired, and I'm not looking to take home any awards for world's worst sleeping child, but sleep with Theo has been a dysfunctional aspect of our lives since infancy, and we are at a point of accepting the crazy it brings. Complete and utter submission to continued wakeful nights and broken sleep.
I was in a bit of a thick fog when I shared stories with Kim last year. With the seasons changing, there were NO good nights with Theo for weeks on end. But hearing the stories that Kim shared about the crazy things she went through to get Jack to sleep, and the endless zombified state she was in for the first 3 years of his life made me feel less alone. She talked about how her life became a constant anxiety/frustration attack because all she could focus on was the sleep she was NOT getting. She became extremely antisocial and there were dark dark times of sleep deprivation that she's glad are behind her. I'm not thankful she went through any of this, but I was so thankful to talk face to face with another mother who could literally finish my thoughts regarding sleep problems. On the days that I would come in, and she would ask - gently - "how was your night?" and I could answer in one word, "bad", and not have her say something like well we've all been there, right?? and chuckle it off as if having a toddler is like having any toddler really meant a lot to me. She even defended me when other parents WOULD say stuff like that unknowingly, thinking that every journey of sleep deprivation with a child is the same. She got me. And I was thankful to find that understanding in another person.
ANYWAY, I'll get off that tangent right now and get down to the nitty gritty of this post.
She's leaving, and the news hit me hard. And I spent the majority of the early afternoon quiet and with a lump in my throat while I played along side Theo. Another mother actually commented (jokingly) that I was taking the news really badly as she recognized my overly quiet state. (Spoiler alert for those who haven't met me, I'm kind of chatty and social on my good days). But I sat there, in my reflective state on how I felt another "loss" on my hands to deal with....and how this is all coming at SUCH a bad time. I know that sounds almost ridiculous, and ABSURD to use the weighted word "loss" when I, a BLM(!), have dealt with and had real "loss" on my hands before. But that's where I went in knowing that Kim wasn't going to part of my day to day routine with Theo. I knew it wouldn't make sense to anyone else in class that day, but I was not sinking into deep thoughts of detachment and mourning solely because Kim was transferring schools.
This is a loaded day for me, and getting this news didn't help.
This is definitely a time of year where I count my losses rather than appreciate my gains. (Don't get me wrong, I always appreciate Theo - and am SO thankful for him - but I'm just not one too look on the bright side of things right now). I got so sad and so torn up, and I was convinced that the second I left class that I would cry myself a good cry on the walk home. But I didn't make it that far. While Theo was playing with a few of the other boys in class, reading books to each other and acting cute as can be at 22 and 32 months of age... my mind wondered. And I trapped myself in thoughts of how EVERYTHING IS SO HARD, and ALL GOOD THINGS END. MY BABY DIED 3 YEARS AGO, AND TODAY WAS HIS DUE DATE. KIM PLEASE DON'T LEAVE. I went a little crazy town right there, and my eyes brimmed with tears and I had to look at the wall - away from the front of the class where the majority of adults were hanging out chatting - as a few tears rolled down my cheeks. I told myself to pull it together fast because I would FREAK EVERYONE OUT with ugly cries and incoherent speech otherwise. And the phrase my baby died would come out all at the wrong time. I'm not hiding the fact that I lost my first born, but I've only just started to connect with a few of the families outside of school, and am planning to 100% share Alexander's story... but in a busy classroom environment, I haven't felt compelled/comfortable to do so.
But I was in a bad spot. After I had my moment, veiled and hidden from everyone, one mother asked me if I had been crying... guys, I'm really tired despite the good night Theo had! I was yawning, ok!! I surprise myself with my acting chops all the time. But I knew if I gave myself an inch, I would fall apart. I could physically feel how under pressure my emotions were, and I had to ride it out for the remainder of my stay or else I would be a mess.
This program is the first pleasant and steady thing I've brought Theo to...EVER. In his infancy, I was still too fragile to join mommy groups or connect with other mothers. And over the summer of last year when Theo was a new toddler, I went to parks or water parks every day, and frequented a few community centers that had gym play or toddler times. I made a few casual friends, but have since dumped them (or they dumped me - bottom line, we don't text and meet up any more), and finding this drop-in program last fall was a dream come true. If I'm not taking Theo to a registered story time at the library, I'm at this school for a few hours a day, 2-3 days a week. And I've kept going back because of Kim. She makes it worth it for Theo, and really, worth it for me! I learned early on when looking after Theo as a Stay-At-Home-Mom in his toddler-hood that making experiences enjoyable for ME is almost just as important as the enjoyment level for HIM. If I don't like a crowd, or a teacher, or a librarian... I most likely will not go back. Theo will soon have stronger preferences (maybe) about the things we do every day and the places we go. He specifically asks for "Pim" on a daily basis. He also refers to "Cat-ee, wuw, and nick" (Kelly, Lou, and Nick) too, who also frequent the public school's program. So I know he likes going. And as busy and tame as he keeps himself while in class, I know he's having the time of his life. But I know should we NEVER go back, he'll latch on to the next thing we frequent and hopefully grow the same joy for it. And this is where it all come back to ME. I like going there, and I like Kim. I found a spot - that's great for Theo - that I look forward to spending productive and fun time there. And now, next week, it wont be the same. There will be a substitute for a while, and then a permanent ECE teacher will fill the spot, but it will be a change for me that I might not necessarily adapt to all that well. I might have to find something else because I don't like the teacher, or a lot of the quality regulars might stop attending. Unwelcomed Change in the Middle of February. And that really hit me hard today... and bummed me the eff out in the process.
And the rest of my day isn't going any better. Theo didn't fall asleep in the stroller on the way home at 1:45pm, and even refused a nap after winding him down (and he was falling all over the place) when we got home. It was 3pm, and he hadn't napped, but I needed this time to write. So even though I could have, I refused to let him go nap-less. I gave him a snack, and rocked him and let him cry and fuss... and he finally went down at 3:45. It's 5pm now, and he's still sleeping. This day (and probably tonight) is cooked.
Today is Alexander's due date. I missing him, and it hurts. I'm aching with that usual ache that February brings. And just as I predicted, I'm in a fragile state now that his due date has hit and I march on toward his birthday.
I didn't want to deal with this change right now in my daily routine. I wanted to go on auto-pilot next week and get to his birthday and let the emotions wash over me in fresh grief fashion. Now, I will say "goodbye" to what feels like Theo's first teacher, and be an "unexplainable" emotional mess.
Change is always hard. Especially when you have to let go of a good thing*.
*not to imply I've ever let go of Alexander or how much I love him
Note: I am using "ECE teachers" because I'm not 100% of their titles. I know they work closely with the kindergarten teachers to develop skills and focus on early childhood development. But I'm not sure of their exact job title