Thursday, June 3, 2010


It's such a great, round number. A go-to expression for me.

"I told you a thousand times..."

"I could sleep for a thousand years..."

"A thousand pounds of shit in a five pound bag."

And here I am, just over a thousand days into this parenting gig.

It's a long time, a thousand days. If I do the math in the opposite direction and consider what I had going a thousand days before they were born it seems like I've lived two full lifetimes since. The end of 2004 was marked by the impending arrival of my youngest niece, my Dad's final Christmas (though we didn't realize it at the time), and a trip to the emergency vet for my new puppy who was suffering from something called mega-esophagus (yes, it's completely disgusting). I bought my favorite pair of jeans.

If I think about what we might be doing a thousand days from now, it almost gives me vertigo. Kindergarten for C, 38th birthday looming, and the puppy (who made a full recovery btw) will be pushing 9 years. Assuming that we're all still here, of course.

It feels like I should take an inventory to mark the occasion. Maybe if I unpack my heart and mind and spread the contents out on the floor I'll see some sort of pattern emerge. Maybe everything will suddenly make sense. That "reason" that the Alliance of Tired Bromides keeps floating will make a special appearance and vaporize my feelings of parental failure.

We're still in the process of settling into our new life and our new house. Each box that we unpack is like a tiny Pompeii--an artifact of disaster. A box marked "dog toys, whistles, spices" taunts me from the corner of the spare room. Who were these people who bought enough whistles that they warranted their own packing label? And what kind of crazy person packs spices with dog toys and announces it to the world?

We aren't those people anymore.

I think we've learned to wear our peculiar mix of joy and despair a little more gracefully. People do less brow-furrowing when I engage them in mundane small talk...and hey, I can engage in mundane small talk! T almost electronically eviscerated an FB friend who wandered into my lane last week (she responded to my post about my early-rising dog with a complaint about her twins who won't sleep in) but we discussed and decided we shouldn't rain on her parade.

I still burn out lightbulbs when I get angry but we seem to be changing them less frequently.

Rounding the corner and heading for the three-year mark, I occasionally have the sensation that I'm exactly where and who I want to be. I'm not so sure that I would want to be the clueless FB commenter or the sharer of crazy twin-parenting hijinks. Sometimes I can even think about the upside of raising an only child without feeling like I'm killing R all over again.

My daughter is dead. I miss her and I will always love her but, my other daughter is alive and healthy. How can I look at C, knowing what I know about the slim margin between possible and impossible, and be less than thrilled about my good fortune?

A thousand days ago it felt as though every notion I'd ever had about how the world works was blasted right out of my head by the one-two punch of a dead baby and a living baby.

If I crack open the vault and take a thorough look inside, I can see that some things survived intact. I still curse like a truck driver and laugh at T's stupid jokes. I still hate beets, mummies, and TV crime/hospital dramas. I still think that voting is important and that people shouldn't own handguns. I'm still afraid of right-wing nut-jobs.

Other parts are damaged beyond recognition. The section that stored all of my high-flown ideas about the 'right' way to parent is just a steaming pile and I seem to have lost my interest in celebrity gossip (sigh).

I have a stack of shiny new things I've learned from my girls--an appreciation for the role that luck plays in our lives, the ability to ignore small problems, the patience to meet people where they are, a thorough understanding of couch cushion fort engineering.

As far as I can tell, there's no 'reason' tucked in among the jumble. I could have learned and continued to grow if R had lived...even if she was perfectly normal and healthy. This accumulated knowledge doesn't even seem particularly special. I doubt it looks significantly different than the stuff that other parents have learned.

I wish I had some grand bit of wisdom to pass along. All I can say with any certainty is that I'm hoping for a smoother ride over the next thousand days.


  1. I just love your posts. You always manage to make me laugh, tear up and nod along. I love this list of who you were and are, but how in the world can you hate beets?

  2. Truly, I am kicking myself that I didn't start reading here earlier. I don't think I realised you had a blog - I can be a bit hopeless like that, and I'm sorry. I love the way you write. I love this post. I'll be sure to be reading along from now on.

  3. Thank you so much. I'm coming up on 90 days since the loss of my sweet girl Nina and everything still seems to make me cry. Your post managed to make me laugh, too, if not out loud, at least inside. There is wisdom here. Thank you. I'm so sorry you're still going through it. I guess that part never ends.