Our adventure with Tessa came to a head on Saturday evening. My oh so patient Alex fell apart. Tessa is really a very good baby, but she is still a baby. Babies whine a little and babies need lots of attention. That means that Alex had to tolerate the change in our normally quiet routine and sacrifice her mommy time. I guess three days was her limit, because on Saturday evening she cried because the NASCAR race was over. Then she cried at bedtime. Drew laid with her a for while, she fell asleep for a short bit and then woke up crying again. I couldn’t go to her because Tessa had decided to do pretty much the same thing at the same time. I think that is when Drew and I realized that Alex was just simply overwhelmed.
Mom had offered to keep Tessa for a night and then Sasha had mentioned the same thing earlier in the day. At that time things really were okay, so I guess God was just looking out for us. I went ahead and talked to Sasha and Mom and made plans to take Tessa to Mom’s Sunday morning. We made it through the night with Alex sleeping fairly well and Tessa only waking up a couple of times. When everyone was awake on Sunday morning I packed up the baby hoard, drove to Springdale and dropped her off. I loved on her a little while longer and when I left she was happy to have 100% of Mom’s attention. She has stayed with Mom before and I know she will be just fine.
I still feel really bad that I couldn’t keep her until Casey & Sasha were moved and settled later in the week, but I just couldn’t. On top of Alex being overwhelmed, Drew & I were getting there, too. This is where I make a confession.
Tessa is a LOT like Emma. Her blond hair and blue eyes are one thing, but the more time we spent with her the more we saw Emma in her mannerisms. It has been just over one year since Emma died and the three of us have found some sort of normal and routine in order to function. I thought we were all doing pretty darn good, but it turns out that part of that functioning is done in a bubble. It’s our own little bubble in which we make Alex the center of our at-home attention. We remember Emma frequently, but having Tessa here was much harder than I anticipated. I’m perfectly capable of physically caring for an infant and I thought that was enough. My hair my be crazy and I may look like a walking zombie, but I can handle it. What I didn’t anticipate was the emotional toll. At one point I found myself wanting to call her “Sissy”, which is what we so often called Emma. Here was my other mistake… I really didn’t even ask Drew before I brought Tessa home with me. That really isn’t how our relationship works, but that’s what I did. I just told him I was bringing her home for a few days to help Casey & Sasha. I owe Drew an apology for not consulting with him first and then not thinking of how having a very sassy blonde headed little girl in our house would make us all feel.
So, that’s the dirty truth. I like being every one else’s rock, but I guess I just got a reminder that this rock rests on a bubble. It’s a bubble of emotion from having lost a child. My child. Emma. I do think that stepping out of and away from our bubble served as a valid reminder of where we are in our grieving process. I can’t even begin to say what phase of grief that is. I’m past the “I don’t give a crap” phase, so maybe this phase should be termed “That’s a little too close to home.” Whatever it is, I really loved having Tessa here for a few days and I’m thankful to have spent that time with her. I think I just need to be a little more aware of staying Crazy Aunt Mandy and not taking on a motherly role. That is what got a little too close to home, and that is my own fault and no one else’s.
Okay, enough confession. I feel a bit embarrassed over it all and a little guilty, too. I know Tessa is happy and spoiled at my mom’s and she will be back with her mommy & daddy in a few days. I think I need to clarify what Casey & Sasha are doing. When I said they were going through a lot, it left some wondering what was going on. Sasha and new baby are fine, it’s just stuff with work that has gone awry. Casey & Sasha bought some milk cows a few months ago and entered into an agreement with a dairy owner. They’ve worked their rears off, but there were some personal differences and changed expectations that have lead them to look for a better situation. They have been taking care of moving cows and their other animals and are currently packing up their house to move.
As for parents of young kiddos, I give you kudos. Drew & I did that and survived, enjoying a great deal of it. That said, we are happy to have our baby at a beautiful 10 years old. She’s mild mannered and patient and quite easy to care for, despite her special physical needs. If you are raising very young children then you deserve a pat on the back. If you are raising very young children and manage to still have a healthy marriage, then extra kudos to you. It is definitely the hardest job that I’ve ever had and one that deserves recognition. In other news, if you are thinking of having children then I highly recommend keeping someone else’s baby for a few days. For one, you will give that mom & dad a much appreciated break. Benefit number two? You will either decide that you really do want children of your own or you will have just provided yourself with the most effective form of birth control ever!
Moving on, yesterday was a better day at our house. Emotions settled a good bit and Drew, Alex & I enjoyed a quiet Sunday. We watched NASCAR, which I am shocked to report that I actually enjoy now. Drew and I have been married almost 13 years and it has taken me that long to move from despising, to tolerating to enjoying. For Alex is it an acceptable substitute when there is no football to watch with Daddy. Knowing Alex & Drew are in a happy place puts me in a happy place.
I bathed all three dogs yesterday and Alex was very happy to have them back inside. Of course, bathing three dogs in the bathroom meant that I had to give the entire room a thorough scrub. Clean dogs + clean bathroom = accomplished day.
Today is Monday and we are back into our routine. Drew got up early and hit the gym before heading to work. Alex slept until about 8 and now we are watching PBS and taking it easy. Alex therapy for today has been rescheduled to later in the week, so it should be a fairly uneventful day and that’s a good thing.