I am back to school, which means I am in that first-couple-of-weeks exhaustion. I need to make a video message for myself that shows me, in my eye -bagged September glory, saying, "THIS HAPPENS EVERY YEAR. IT IS NORMAL. AND TEMPORARY."
Unfortunately, this year is one of transitions -- new building leadership, three new special education teachers, many new processes... Which makes it much more, to quote the kids, extra.
So I missed much of World Childless Week this year in live terms due to first-full-week exhaustion, but the good news is it all lives in perpetuity on https://worldchildlessweek.net -- just click "Menu" and you can see everything for this year's and previous. Stephanie Joy Phillips is amazing and it is free (although donations help keep it going!).
Otherwise school starting was lovely -- we don't have the slideshow anymore (do not miss that!) and there was no speech that put parenthood as "your most important job." Win!
But then... I got an invite to a baby shower for a coworker who is due in November. Which I can do! I'm all good with work showers now! So well -adjusted! I opened it and the invite was adorable -- an old fashioned pickup truck filled with pumpkins that said "a little pumpkin is arriving in November!" Awww. So sweet. I was like, "cool, this is cute and I don't feel sad! WIN!"
A smaller piece of paper fell out of the envelope with the same image. And it said something along the lines of, "instead of bringing a card, bring a book for baby and write your message in it."
I teared up at my desk IMMEDIATELY. Do you know how many books I still have that have book plates made out to "Baby T____" with a message of joy and anticipation? SO MANY. I don't know how to donate books that have personal messages in them. It was a wonderful idea but ended up extraordinarily painful. And seeing this idea again, for an event that will involve opening and reading and admiring books for baby, it sent that pain right back to the surface.
I can get books for my coworker's baby. I can get presents. I CANNOT be there for that part.
And you know what? It's okay. It's okay that it hit me like a sock full of quarters swinging at my head. It fell on the heels of going to a local bookstore and seeing little board books with finger puppets, and they had Halloween ones like Little Ghostie, and a Little Octopus. We used to have the bat and the black cat. That was a little stabby, but then the echo of our own baby shower for a baby that never turned out to exist... It all culminated in a very sad moment that caught me off guard.
But also, a realization. I can feel that sadness, and not torture myself with going into a situation I know will make me very sad. I'll go, and then leave. Because no one wants a sad crying lady at a baby shower.
And I don't have to "be brave" and prove myself by staying and shoving my split-open grief deep down so it can erupt later.
What felt like a step back in the moment I saw that smaller paper slip that took my breath away, is actually a step forward.