All My Children

 

How many children do you have? This shouldn’t be a difficult question, but I guarantee if you’ve lost a child, it is. This question comes up far more in casual conversation than I ever realized. You run into an old friend, or a friendly old lady at the grocery store and it’s asked. You’re filling out forms at the doctor’s office, and there it is. Taxes, it’s there too. The first time it hits you off guard and you falter a bit. Do you mention your forever young child with those you can still watch grow up? Or do you answer with only the number of kids you’re still able to tuck in to bed every night? Will mentioning that your child has passed on make the person who asked uncomfortable? Or will not mentioning them make you more uncomfortable?

How many children do I have? Well that depends. Are you asking how many babies my body formed and gave life to? How many children played soccer in my uterus as I tried to sleep on any given night of pregnancy? Or are you asking how many children I will hopefully one day get to see have children of their own? I struggled how to answer this for a long time.

One of my good friends who has also lost a child, told me she often felt the same way. Her son who passed had been her first child. When she had her second child, people would ask her all the time if he was her first, or her only. She felt disloyal to her first son when she said yes. If she said no, and explained that her first son had passed away, she would often get uncomfortable looks. It was usually a conversation ender. So what do we say? How can we appease everyone? Honestly, we can’t. And you know something? That’s ok. Sometimes what she tells people varies, depending on who they are, and how she is feeling at the time. Me, I always mention my son. Neither of us is answering in the wrong way. All of us have different experiences, all of us heal differently and all of us have to find out what response works for us. That is the only true advice I can give you, my friends. Do what makes you feel best, do what gives you hope.