Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Patchwork of Support, and Conquering My Fear of Rejection

At my last midwife appointment, I talked to Chris about the grief that had been welling up.

I'm not sad about being an SMC. I don't miss my nonexistent partner. I understand the practical benefits a partner brings -- more income, more hands on help, the ability to go out on child free adventures more often -- but I don't miss the demands of having an adult relationship.

But I suddenly realized a few weeks ago that without a second parent and without a living grandparent, Calliope no longer has an adult in her life, besides me, that thinks she's amazing. Every child deserves a fan club, a person or people who think her every accomplishment is golden.

I don't miss my mother for myself. We weren't close that way. But I miss calling her to report on Calliope's latest achievement or funny saying. My mother was completely without detachment when it came to her grandchildren. She was sure that Calliope was a genius and athletically gifted. She loved my small anecdotes.

And now, that audience and that admiration is gone. And I'm grieving that, for Calliope as well as for my unborn daughter, who will have never known it. And I don't know quite what to do with that.

So I went to see a grief counselor, on the advice of my midwife. Since I saw a counselor while TTC'ing for C, just to make sure my emotional house was tidy, I figured it was only fitting that I do a little "inner work" while preparing for Blueberry.

It was a good session. I found out that I am doing pretty well, actually. She had a few suggestions.

One -- use ritual as a way to create space for grief. Based on her suggestion, I am going to seek out a family Shabbat service (despite some ambivalence on my part about religion) where I can say the Mourner's Kaddish for my mother while still spending time with Calliope. (Apparently children's services often don't include the Kaddish, so I just emailed a local rabbi to find out if her synagogue's offerings would fit the bill).

Two -- create a patchwork of support. So maybe, sadly, I won't have one person who thinks Calliope is the next best thing. But I can have a wider network of fans for her.

So I've asked her "godmother," Auntie Salt Lick, to come over and make brownies with Calliope. She's ready to take on a bigger role in Calliope's life, but it's hard because Calliope doesn't see her enough to be comfortable going on outings with just Salt Lick. But I decided that making brownies together, while I am busy in the other room, might be just the thing to kick off a relationship between the two of them. Nonthreatening to Calliope, while still an opportunity for them to talk and get to know each other without my helpful interference. And Calliope rarely gets sweets, so she will view brownies as gigantically thrilling.

Auntie Salt Lick also offered to take us to the circus soon, so that will be fun, too.

The therapist also encouraged me to keep after my sister, and to not view her lack of calling as rejection, but about her, my sister, and what's going on in her life. But she rightly saw my sister's decision to buy a birthday gift "from Grammy" for Calliope as an intention to be involved in Calliope's life.

And to try to pursue the relationship with Barbara, my mother's best friend. Barbara lives in southern CT and just took me out for a fancy post-birthday brunch, just the two of us. It was so nice.

I think I'm so scared of rejection sometimes that I pull away. So my goal with Barbara is to schedule another visit, this time with Calliope. And to figure out a project, similar to the brownies, that they can do together.

Also conquering a fear of rejection (or not hearing back), I sent an email to the mother of a family I used to babysit for, a million years ago. We were very close and I even lived with the family one summer on Cape Cod when I was in high school. But the mother acted strangely distant when I came back to visit after my first semester at college, and I wondered if she was alienated by the fact that I was in college and she had never gone. And so I stopped being in touched. But never forgot them. And I finally just looked up that baby girl I had adored... and found she is a mother herself! To a daughter older than Calliope. And that the father died, to my shock and great sadness. But I "friended" the mother and she posted a nice comment to a recent Calliope anecdote. So I girded my metaphorical loins and wrote her a message, thanking her for playing such a supportive role in my life as a teenager, a time when I surely needed an adult friend. And I am remembering that even if she never responds, I can feel good about thanking her. That I did that for me as much as for her.

I'm feeling more optimistic and positive since the visit. I don't have plans right now to go back, but I'm glad I went.


  1. I love your blog and Calliope is one of my favorite blogger kids but I don't comment much because I'm usually reading blogs while eating or petting an animal, etc. I'm a fairly lonely person because of a disability that hampers mobility and causes a lot of pain but I have many, many people that I have connected with via the internet who are an important part of my life. It's still very new - this concept of connecting with complete strangers through the W-cubed but it has its' rewards. Yesterday was my niece's birthday and I posted a picture of her with her cards and gifts on facebook. I had half a dozen people from literally all over the world leave comments like, "she's getting so big!" and "I can't believe she's already 12!". We form our own communities... and while there is no one in the world who can love Calliope like your mom... there are a lot of people out there who I bet would love to try. *hugs* Heather

    1. Thank you Heather! That is lovely!

  2. I'm glad the session went well and that you feel like you have concrete steps to build your support network.

  3. I'm glad you went! The lack of support and companionship can be hard. Sometimes when B goes to bed, I just wish I had someone to watch tv with!
    I love your blog and reading about C! I feel like the Smc bloggers I reader are friends! I wish I blogged more but I always "have" something else to do when B goes to bed and then I'm exhausted!

  4. I absolutely share that sadness that my kids don't have another parent, or any grandparents to love them like I do. I have close friends who love them, some of them dearly, but it is nowhere near the same. I often think of how my mother would cherish them, and it makes me so so sad. I think you are so wise and proactive to be building your community, and the people in Calliope's life, the way you are.

  5. I love the idea of creating rituals to fill those needs for connection. I find when I feel connected to my community (dancers, musicians) I feel great - when I feel disconnected is when all my demons (depression, anxiety) come up. I too have major fears of rejection which have massively hampered my life. It's a tough thing to overcome. But reaching out to build a community is a great way to start!

  6. "I think I'm so scared of rejection sometimes that I pull away" I totally identify with that, I do the same thing. I'm glad your session was helpful.

  7. This is a very inspirational post. Thank you for sharing :)