The past month has been incredibly emotional.
It started with the offer of a new job within my company and in order to take it, I had to cut my maternity leave six weeks short and head back to work on December 1st. I knew I wanted the job but felt quite a bit of anxiety over getting our son ready and heading back when he was just ten months old (both girls were 13 months). My brain was consumed with things I needed to do to get ready, questions about how I was possibly going to be ready and thoughts of whether or not I’d ever be ready.
Then the sudden loss of a cherished loved one brought out a kind of sadness I’d never experienced before. Real, deep inside your core, gut wrenching sadness. The kind that feels like it will never go away and in a lot of ways, I don’t know if all of it ever fully will. Added to that have been feelings of helplessness about how best to support the family and the realization of just how deep and how much I love these people.
This also led to our first experience telling our five year old that a relative had passed away. I put a lot of pressure on myself to understand how best to answer her questions and how best to explain things to her. It’s never easy to see your child hurting and I wanted to be sure we were giving her the truth without overwhelming her with information.
Then, out of nowhere, we found out that we’re finalists in a national contest for $10,000. Seriously? Right now? Of course we’re excited about the opportunity but how do you mix excitement and anticipation with sadness? In order to win, we needed to rally as many people as possible to vote for us every 24 hours and because we were (and continue to be) in a very close race for first, this contest added a weird kind of ‘happy-stress’ to our lives.
Suddenly it was the end of the month and I was days from heading back into the office. Our ten month old wasn’t fully weaned, all of the plans I had in mind to prep for my return hadn’t been accomplished, we were in the throws of a ridiculous contest and my family’s grief was still top of mind. I started wrestling with my incredible excitement over our new childcare arrangement and my sadness/ jealousy about someone else being the one helping my kids with their day to day activities. Love our babysitter. Hate that it’s not me. Happy about the job. Can’t believe I’m going back early. Am I doing the right thing? Yes I’m doing the right thing. Am I sure I’m doing the right thing?
Happy, sad, anxious, excited, helpless, nervous, jealous, devastated, stressed – I don’t think my brain has ever been busier in a three week span. It’s hard to believe that I can be feeling all of these emotions and when it comes right down to it, I’m not the one directly affected by the loss, there are many people out there who don’t have jobs to go back to and really, there are tons of people experiencing much more intense emotions on a daily and weekly basis than I am.
As I sit here reflecting on it, I find it amazing to think about everything we go through in our lives – the good, the bad, the ups, the downs – and how lunches are still made, storytime still happens, homework is done, activities are attended and kids get hugged. We really are amazing machines – the machines they call parents.
Deanna lives in Dartmouth with her husband and three children. When she’s not reading stories, dancing to ABBA or burping a baby, she works in communications for Bell Aliant.