It has been a tough few days. I often find myself just staring into a vacuum only to be sometimes lovingly, and at other times jarringly awoken to the reality and everydayness before me. At some point a thoughtful, “Are we stopping for something, Mommy?” like when I pulled into our parking garage and just stood parked with the engine still running, staring at some random spot on the steering wheel or a more impatient sounding, “Mommmmy!” breaking the peace and quiet stare into an emptiness of a bundle of sheets on the bed where I sit nursing my baby before nap time, make no sense. Nothing makes sense any more. Nothing.
I feel guilty at the mundane living of my everyday life. I feel guilty about smiling. I feel guilty about trying to have a good time, even if it is for my kids’ sake. Like, at Music Together today, for example. My heart, mind, and muscles were just not into the movements. Thank goodness, we didn’t have too many walking around “dances” to do. I am not sure I would have been a good participant. I kept to myself and my kids who were a handful, each demanding a side of the lap to themselves. I have little flexibility to actively participate anyway but I still try, for their sake. Except, I just didn’t care to try very hard today. I am just not into anything right now.
Around me, the world moves on by. I asked my other mom friends from a WhatsApp group of which I am a part, for prayers for my mother. Everyone was genuinely supportive and promised to pray for her. I appreciated that. Then, other things like kids’ haircuts and commentaries over different topics took over. That’s just life, isn’t it? My worries are my own. My sadness, my inability to want to engage in anything is my own problem. Others may offer a kind word, a prayer, or help, but the immense depth of sadness is mine to bear. No one gets it and I don’t expect them to. My sisters get it, though. The three of us are intertwined in a strong and loving bond that helps us during such times. We came together for each other when our grandmothers passed away within less than two months of each other. We’ve always been there for one another. We get it and understand what the two others are going through as only sisters can, as only siblings do.
I go about my days, going about my routine, yelling at TJ who has been especially challenging to be around with lately. Everything is a tantrum. Everything is an argument or a goddamn negotiation. Every behavior needs to be incentivized and everything from stickers to tablet-time to play dough to grocery shopping to meal times is extremely stressful. I go about my days, going about my routine, nursing Baby E, changing her, bathing her, dressing her, feeding her, playing with her and reading to her, with only half a heart. I have no energy to engage with the kids anymore. I feel the joy has been sucked out of me. Yet, routines are followed. Lunches and dinners are made or reheated, served, and fed. Snack times are followed by clockwork. The kids do not understand. Perhaps, it is a good thing that they don’t.
TJ does see the tears in my eyes. He lovingly climbed into my lap this morning and asked me why I was crying. I told him that his Mamama was in the hospital and that she was in a lot of pain. He did not understand but accepted it as a reason for my sadness. “You or your sister, one or both of you needs to be a doctor when you grow up. You understand?” He nodded. I don’t care whether or not he got it. I have sowed the seed. Turning toward E, I said the same thing, “You hear that E? You or your brother, one or both of you needs to be a doctor.” She smiled.
What I hate about this situation is the helplessness surrounding it. I can’t be there for my mother right now. I can’t be there with my little sister and my father to help lessen the stress of the logistics of the situation, to whatever extent. I can’t be there to care for the one who has cared for me all my life, literally and figuratively. I can’t be there to hold her hand to reassure her that she’ll get through this, to tease her about her silly forwarded videos and jokes, to be an added resource for strength for her to draw from.
I wish I could read Kannada. I would have loved to read her some things or even her favorite prayers. I am not particularly religious and I have often given her a hard time about her own steadfast beliefs and faith but I would so happily let go off all that and pray for her and with her today. Ironic isn’t it that the same Gods and Goddesses to whom she prays twice a day, every day, and has for years would just mutely stand by and watch her. Why? Why did this happen? All we are left with are the whys.
I wish I lived close by. I wish I could just pack up and go visit her, stay with her as long as I needed to, as she needed me to. After all, I am the one without a job or a career that may fall apart because I don’t show up. I am the one without deadlines, meetings, bosses to fear, or coworkers to supervise.
My kids are little. E still nurses. She is not even a year old. If I leave, there is no one with whom I can entrust care of my kids when Aaron is at work. He’ll have to take time off work. My in-laws could fly down but they are on a month-long vacation to Europe and won’t be back until next month. I cannot take the kids with me. They’ll slow me down. Thankfully, I did get my renewed green card with a 10-years validity recently so at least that travel restriction is no longer an issue.
I have been thinking a lot. Thoughts are always floating in my head. No one thought sticks. I don’t let it. To face any one thought completely is to dwell on unpredictability and fear.
I am thankful for not having to work in a high-stakes, high-reliability profession where lives are at stake with every little decision I make because my focus is at best, blurred, and my concentration levels are at their weakest. I do have two kids to take care of but a lot of that is now on auto-pilot most of the time and even when not, at least for now, it will need to be.
Meanwhile, life still goes on. A life where even my kids’ new milestones don’t seem to matter. I manage a few smiles and a few cheers but then I get back into my reflective and quiet mode. Baby E learned to clap today. She climbed 7 steps all by herself on Friday. We moved TJ to his original room where E sleeps in her crib so they can now share a room. We haven’t had much success with this as he keeps coming back into our room where we still have a little sleeping area for him on a mattress on the floor but at least for a few hours before he quietly returns to our room and makes his way to his bed, we get our bedroom back.
“There is a traffic jam”.
There is a TRAFFIC JAM!” Hunh? I turn around, breaking away from yet another blank stare at who-knows-what…he is referring to the cars he has stuffed into the toy garage. “Oh, okay, honey,” I say, mindlessly.
Nothing matters. Nothing matters anymore.
Except, Ma…She is strong. She is the strongest person I know. The other strongest person I knew passed away a little over a year ago. That was my Mamama. This is her daughter. She is going to get through this. She just has to. The alternative is not an option.
(Written on 2/6/17)