Last week the SMC blogging community experienced the loss of one of our members. Oberon at “B” is for baby” died suddenly leaving behind her five year old daughter. The news was both shocking and scary. As parents our worst fear is losing our children. But closely following that is fear of leaving our children alone. I think this fear resonates strongly with Choice Moms. There isn’t another parent to be there if something happens to us. For our kids we are it.
I never met Bethany (Oberon) in person, but we’ve been apart of the same blogging community for almost six years. Like with so many other bloggers in our community it’s easy to forget we only know each other online. We’ve gone through fertility treatments, pregnancies, births and parenting together. We’ve been watching each other’s children grow up and because most of us don’t have a large network of other SMC to connect with in person, we use each other as resources for navigating our unique parenting choice. When the rumor of her death was confirmed I found myself wanting to turn to her blog for answers for what happened and what happens next. But her voice is silent now.
There were many parallels between her and I. We were the same age, our daughters are less than a year apart and we were both “one and done.” As with others in our community, her death has me considering my own mortality. Because it could happen to any of us.
When Annelise was potty training I had an epiphany; my job as her mother was essentially to prepare her to live without me. She was on her little potty and I was in the other room talking her through it. In order to be considered potty trained for school she had to be completely independent and she didn’t want to be. Every time she’d call me in to help, I’d say “What would you do if mama wasn’t here?” and then talk her through the next step. I remember thinking, “This is basically what being a parent is about, teaching her how to do things for herself so that someday she won’t need me.”
Like many families we have a plan to follow in the event of a fire. We started practicing our fire plan when she was two. But we also have plans for what to do if you find yourself alone in the house, what to do if mommy’s not at the bus stop and what to do if you can’t wake mommy up. While all families should have emergency plans for us it’s imperative. Every morning when I put her on the bus and then get in my car to drive to class or run errands I worry about what would happen if I were in an accident. What happens if I’m not there at the end of the day to meet the bus? She knows she’s not suppose to get off the bus unless I’m there but what if she gets caught up with the other kids and doesn’t look until she’s off the bus. We’ve talked about where she can go to ask for help. But still everyday on my way home from class I imagine myself getting in an accident and my daughter being alone outside our apartment building. There’s also been several nights when I’ve called or texted family members and friends asking them to call or text me in the morning and to make sure I answer. While am sure the tightness in my chest is anxiety and not a heart attack and the throbbing in my head is a headache and not a stroke, if something were to happen to me during the night who knows how long before anyone would notice and come to check on us. For the first time in over a decade I have a home phone line, specifically so I can teach Annelise to call 911. Bethany’s death made me realize I may not be crazy for worrying about these things and making plans for Annelise to deal with them.
Her death was also a reminder of why I blogged. As the news of her death was shared online someone mentioned her blog and if her family knew about it. It’s a record in her own words and with pictures of her journey to have her daughter and their life together. Some day that will be priceless to her daughter.
When I started blogging at It’s Definitely Possible, I did it as a way to connect with women experiencing the same thing I was. Then during my pregnancy and the early years with Annelise it became a record of our story. I know I could have just as easily written it in a private notebook, but for me it was important to send those memories out into the Universe. The first memories I have are at age three and there are only a handful of those. Without another significant person in our lives I knew that I was going to be the person who held all of Annelise’s early memories. I wanted to make sure they survived me. So I gave those memories to anyone who was willing to read them and trusted that if Annelise should ever need them they’d find their way back to her. The posts from It’s Definitely Possible, have been taken offline but they still exist and should anything happen to me Annelise will have access to them. My blogging here is less confessional (and less frequent) but I still try to keep a record of our life together.
I’ve been reflective this past week. Thinking about the legacy I’d leave Annelise and what memories she will have of me. I know at this age, if I were to die she would have very few concrete memories of our life together. What she’ll know about me she’ll learn from the people who knew me or the words I left behind. More than anything I hope she’ll remember feeling safe and being loved.