Stroller season

August 31, 2009

Campus is full of people again, and the strollers are back.  Babies where I’d never noticed them before, until last year.  Babies in sun hats, outside on the mall, babies in slings and backpacks, inside the libraries, the food court, the administration buildings.

It hurts less than last year, but still, some days, ouch.

My SIL posts pictures of our adorable nephew, getting hugged by his older cousin, my adorable niece.  They make me smile, these photos, but – oh! – they make me want.  I should have photos like this of Teddy.  He should know his cousins.

N’s sister is due in September, and two coworkers are due in the early spring, around the same time I’ll be due.  I’m surrounded by babies, in strollers and in-utero.

I’m handling it well, but only because I’m hoping to join them.  Otherwise I’d be an envious wreck, or more of one, anyway.  As it is, having recently told people at work about this pregnancy, I’m back in all the right clubs.  It’s safe to talk to me about babies again, and people are enjoying being happy for me.  But I still miss him.  And I’m not sure I belong in the right clubs, with my sad post-pregnancy belly being pushed out by my new pregnancy belly, with my precarious balance, my scars, and my tendency to say “hopefully” every time I talk about my life now.

I don’t begrudge people for wanting to see me happy; I want to be happy for me, too.  But the relief in their happiness for me – I don’t know how to take that.  It’s too much of a burden to be other people’s story of a happy ending when happiness is so uncertain.

If I’m out next year, in the beautiful autumn stroller season, with a living baby in a stroller (hopefully, hopefully), I’ll be delighted and grateful and humbled by my good fortune, but I’m still likely to say ouch. Even if my life is all smooth sailing from here on out (and what are the chances, really?) I don’t get to be only happy, not only happy ever again.

Ah, well.  Who does?  All of the fairy tales I love leave things unsaid about happy endings.  What about all the healing and forgiving and grieving and growing that still has to be done once you escape abuse and neglect, reclaim your lost child, your lost limbs, your lost love?  Happy endings aren’t only happy, either.

This is what I tell myself, anyway.



  1. I understand this. I’ve been very choosy about who I share this pregnancy with because I don’t want something that feels so fragile to bear the weight of such expectation. And that last paragraph … thank you. It’s what I try to tell myself and it’s good to be reminded that there really is no such thing as ONLY happy.

    I have nominated you for an “Honest Scrap” award because I love your writing. The details are over at my blog.

  2. Oh my goodness Erica, yes. And then some more yes.
    This bit in particular:
    “And I’m not sure I belong in the right clubs, with my sad post-pregnancy belly being pushed out by my new pregnancy belly, with my precarious balance, my scars, and my tendency to say “hopefully” every time I talk about my life now.”
    You just manage to nail it for me every time, not to mention your writing is stunning.
    Lots of love to you and that brand new little one. Grow baby, grow!

  3. The happiness of others is wonderful; the relief definitely hard to take.

    There can be great happiness in the happy ending, even when it is not only happy, even with the ouches. I do so look forward to you being able to feel the happy ending.

  4. I’ve often wondered about those fairy tales, after the end as it were. I think you are right, happy endings aren’t only happy.

    It is very difficult to see that mixture of relief and happiness in the eyes of others. It used to trouble me when I thought that my surviving child might not be ‘perfect’ in the eyes of the world. I used to feel that strange additional pressure, of not wanting to upset the happy ending that everyone had planned.

    You write so beautifully. Sending lots of wishes for happiness (even if I know that it can’t be only happiness) to you and your family. xo

  5. That was very thought provoking, Erica. The concept of “only happy”… you’re so very very right.

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