Saturday, February 28, 2009

How many children do you have?

Ok...so I know many people who read this blog have been in this situation. I still often wonder what to say.

At times Steve and I have said 4...as not to get into details and yet then we feel like we really have 5 and why deny Larson the life he had. There have been times that my children have corrected me when I say 4. I hear their cute voices pipe up and say.."no...remember we have Larson mom!" They are so proud of him like any sibling would be. They just don't get to share him in person.

As time has gone on Steve and I agree we want to say 5. We love to share the story of Larson and yet then there are times you can tell the other person is either uncomfortable or uninterested.

Really never thought I would have to think through a question like this. It is often asked. You mommies know...we all ask about the same things when we get to know one another. Now that my children are in sports...well this is asked often.

Trust me...I have done both and I have heard many comments pertaining to both...
-yes share...he is your son
-why do you need to share about it...hes safe with the Lord

I would love to hear from those of you who have lost a child. What do you say? For those of you have not lost a child...leave a comment also.

Honestly this has changed my life and really has put me on the opposite side of the field. I used to be safe in all situations. I used to feel comfortable in all situations. I used to not think twice what I said. I love meeting people and getting to know them. But this story...well it is part of me. I don't want to cling to it and yet I am not willing to let it go.

I want to be considerate of others and yet I want to talk about my son as I do all my other children. I want my other children to not be afraid to talk about their brother. Why is this so taboo? Why is there not some simple answer. Why are some uncomfortable talking about my dead son. Yes HE IS MY SON! And my children HAVE ANOTHER BROTHER.

So...would love to hear from you if you have some advice. Not going to get the t-shirt yet!

BTW...I don't share as much about my other children as I know this is a public blog and want to keep some things personal. I love them just as much. I say this because I have had questions about that. That maybe I don't think about them the way I should. I want to assure you. I love ALL my children and cherish them for who they are.

13 comments:

Suzie said...

My thing is... when people ask...Do you have any children? (Because I do not have any other than Cooper and My step children who live in another state with their mother)

My answer is always yes. But then I get a confused look from them becuase just that, I dont have any here with me. I have to admit one time I did say , NO. But that was to a person, who I could tell would not want to stick around for the details... (they missed the family pictures hanging on the wall in front of them) DUH!!!!

Anyways, I do know what you are saying. It is a hard things to figure out how to answer. But since that person, I ALWAYS say yes, I have one son...(and the step kids also)

Allie said...

Who would have thought that such an innocent question could cause so much confusion and grief in our hearts and minds. I noticed when I was asked that question, no matter how I answered there was always a pause before I would answer. And invariably, the other person would notice the pause and it was a little confusing to them why I was having to think about the number of children I have. What I have come up with that I am the most comfortable with is that after that pause I say, "I'm sorry. That question always throws me for a minute. I have three children, but one is no longer living/one is with Jesus." I have been reading your blog for a while and I have been very encouraged by your words. Thank you for posting about this. I think that this is something that we all struggle with.

Michelle said...

I have no experience with this situation but I wanted to share that if we met and asked about each others children, I would feel honored to learn about Larson!

Jennifer said...

I too have struggled with "that" question. Unfortunately there are days when there isn’t a correct answer. I have tried more answers then I can count on numerous occasions. I have finally found one that I seem to like and use it often (I also feel at peace with). “I have 4 children…a 7 year old, a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a would be 6 month old…” I often say the “would be” quickly and most people don’t even pick up on it. Most strangers just say “wow! You must be very busy with 4 children!” and then I get to agree. I occasionally get a strange look if I have the other kids with me and they start looking around for Timothy and I often have to share a little more and that point (which we all know is the hard part!). If I am questioned for more information about the kids I normally say something about how we were blessed to have almost 3 hours with Timothy before he went to live in heaven. Using the word blessed seems to take some of the pressure off and they seem to react better then if I just say that he died.

I completely understand about you keeping this blog just for Larson. I have done the same thing with Timothy's. The feelings that I have with, for and about Timothy are so different then "normal" mothering feelings. They are filled with love but so much more...sorrow, fear, regret, joy, frustration, pain, and an intense feeling of longing. My blog for Timothy is almost my tribute to him...I hope that our other children will grow up reading it and not only remember him but also learn about me.

Jennifer said...

I don't have any children yet. Trying to put myself in the situation of the person you're talking to...It may make me feel a bit uneasy at first, only because I might feel badly for asking such a sensitive question. At the same time, I would feel awful if I knew you had denied one of your children in order to avoid making me uncomfortable. I'd say, if you want to tell people about ALL your children, then that's what you should do. However, I'm just thinking from the perspective of other people, not your perspective, but I hope this helps.

Linda said...

This really is the million dollar question, isn't it? As a woman, no matter where I go, children are talked about and the question comes up as to how many I have. I initially try to answer very simply and just say "7." Unfortunately, with such a large number, all kinds of comments usually follow, and if I have to go into further detail, I say that we have four by birth but have lost two, and three through adoption. I NEVER allow myself to say this in a morose way because I really do try to keep people from being uncomfortable. I have found that if I add the adoption part last, it gives people something positive to direct their next comment or question about. Maybe if you list your living children at the end of the statement, such as, "I have one in heaven and four other very busy children here with me," it will allow people to focus on the interests of the "very busy" children. I feel like you in that I cannot and will not deny the existence of my two children who are now with our Lord. They were and still ARE too much a part of me, and I have found that when I tried to just say that I have two older boys and the girls that I have started to cry. Now THAT really does make people uncomfortable. I do believe that since you are concerned with others' feelings, you will handle the situation very well no matter what you decide.

Big Momma said...

My friend's second son was born sleeping, and she said it is somewhat therapeutic to include him in the "number" of children. She has made some incredible friends that she wouldn't have necessarily become friends with because she choose to mention him as if he was still alive.

Although I don't have any personal experience with this challenge firsthand, I think if you are at a place where YOU are comfortable including him, by all means, do! I am a firm believer that people shouldn't ask questions they aren't willing to hear the answers to... if they feel they "need" to know how many children you have, don't hesitate in answering honestly. If the answer makes them uncomfortable, it isn't your fault. Regardless of how they feel, your story will still be your story, and Larson will always be your sweet Larson!

Erika said...

great post. i get this all the time! I usually say i have one living child and two daughters who were stillborn in july. maybe it makes people uncomfortable, but it's where i am right now.

i can't bring myself not to include vivian and annemarie in my list of children- i gave bith to them, they are my children, and someone else's discomfort is not a reason for me to lie.

perhaps the next time that person asks that question, his or her mind will be expanded/ready to hear a less than "perfect" answer...

j3k said...

I have 4 children here with me and one in heaven. I have been asked this question a million times and it is a hard one. I always reply quicky with: "I have 4 children here with me and 1 in heaven". My oldest is 18 now and my youngest is 10 our baby girl who died was a twin to our 16 year old who is still with us and we have always talked open and honest with the kids about her. Its funny because sometimes my youngest ones will answer the question before I get the chance. You would think our 10 and 11 year old knew her first hand even though they weren't even born yet. They share everything they know about her with their friends and anyone that wants to hear about it. So I always feel like its ok to say I have 4 children here with me and one in heaven. People respond very well to that a few people have asked questions but I have never gotten a negative response. My baby girl was an identical twin so I have been blessed for the last 16 years of knowing what she would look like every step of the way. I know her personality would have been different but some things so many things would have been the same.
Short story here.. when Kylie had to have surgery when she was 5 it was a 9 hour surgery on her kidneys and at that time we hadn't told her about her twin and she was too young to remember anything. So, we were all stressed out and worried and one night before bed she came in to us and said "mommy and daddy don't worry I will be ok, I have a girl who looks like me who talks to me everynight and she told me everything will be fine and I will be ok" Tears rolled down both our faces and there in no more confirmation then that!!!! Good luck to you and god bless!

Hearts and Hugs
Marie

Sara said...

Corie...such a tough question to answer sometimes. I have found that my answers seems to be that I have 4 living children and 1 safe in Heaven. I know you asked why it is such a taboo subject. I answer the way I do for 2 reasons. It is becoming more and more obvious to me as time passes since Samuel's death...just how uncomforable people are with grief and the death of a child. If I can in any way help educate them on what is helpful to a grieving parent or just what it is like... then I am willing. We in America, just aren't used to the death of children. I recently heard someone say that people many years ago would usually always answer how many living and how many deceased children they had. It was much more common back then. The other reason I always mention Samuel is that it makes me feel like I am acknowledging his life. I know he existed, but nobody else gets to see him. When I have just said 4... it has felt so funny, and just didn't sit well with me. I want to talk about him, I want his life validated so it is just another way that I can do that.

OK sorry for the novel. I have been thinking of and praying for you all!
Sara

Chelsea Pang said...

This is a hard one for me because my first and only baby was born to Heaven. So when people ask if I have children, especially at work (Im a nurse), I say no...because I don't want to 'get into it'. But when it is someone else I sometime say, but it really depends on my mood, if I feel like I might cry or not. When she was born I declared that I would speak her name only when it brought glory to God or if I needed to. That still stands. I don't feel the need to speak her name all the time and that is (most of the time) ok with me. She's always in my heart.

Michelle said...

Wow. Marie's comment gave me total goosebumps. That is a beautiful story!
I'm still not 100% comfortable with this, but what seems to work the best for me is:
Simply answer, "I have four sons." If a person asks how old they are, then I say their ages, including Benjamin by explaining that he's in heaven. I try to do it matter-of-factly, but that's still hard sometimes.
I feel like this is a topic that needs to be more open, so I don't feel TOO bad if someone is uncomfortable with my answer. I hope that they will learn more about how a stillbirth loss affects a family. I have lost a child! It wasn't just "something that didn't work out."
So for me, I guess it's partly an effort to increase awareness as well as to recognize my precious Benjamin as part of our eternal family!

Rachel said...

I always reference my daughter and a miscarried baby whether I say "I have 4 children" or "two children here and 2 in heaven." I get blubbery still, but know it would hurt worse to not include them.