Mothering is intense, emotionally and physically. Some days I feel successful, and some days I feel like I have no idea if I am doing any aspect of it well. As women, we gain strength, understanding, and advice from other mothers who are walking along this journey with us.
I am the mother of two. Elliot is 10 years old, and Silas is forever a newborn whose imperfect heart wasn’t made for this world. For me, mothering both of my children, though vastly different, is very much in the present tense.
My mothering of Elliot is obvious and relatable with the women I am “doing life with,” who are also mothering in a similar way. I am mothering by taking Elliot to piano lessons, reminding Elliot not to be too chatty while the teacher is talking, and watching Elliot play with my nephews and nieces.
My mothering of Silas is neither obvious nor relatable to many, but it is still very real, and often very draining for me. I am mothering Silas by the way I honor his too-brief life by helping the program named in his honor that supports others families facing life-limiting diagnoses for their newborns, pouring love into my students at school, and celebrating each new milestone of my nephews who are each within months of the age Silas should be.
In much of the same way I put energy into being Elliot’s mom, and doing my best in that role, I am doing the same as Silas’ mom. The way I am mothering Silas is also really internal, and focused on “grieving well,” sadly not in the daily tasks of taking care of a living child.
Yes, the mothering of my children looks very different, but both take and deserve my energy and focus every single day. I feel even more emotionally and physically drained when I fight against this notion and hide it too much from those closest to me.
Another way I am honoring Silas is by listening and understanding other bereaved moms, who are often overwhelmed by the mothering they are doing that is not obvious or relatable to others.
Together in solidarity, we as bereaved mothers, need to love, grieve and honor all of our children, even though our mothering looks quite different than what our heart longs for most.
Moms I see you, each of you, and I applaud you!
COURTNEY FIELDS CONNELLY is a teacher at Jenks High School, and the co-founder of The SILAS Program at Hillcrest Medical Center. Always up for a new book and a cup of coffee, Courtney lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, Blake, and she is the proud mother of her two children, Elliot and Silas.