I was dripping wet just out of the pool for Bubbaboos swim class, getting him dried and dressed first.
There was one of the other Mums in the class beside me doing the same, she has a little boy John. It was the first time we had met.
John's Mum: How old is Bubbaboo?
Me: He is 13 months.
JM: John is 9 months. Is he your only one?
Me: yes, he is my only one.
JM: Yeah John is our only one too, but we are trying for another. Not sure how long it will take.
Will you be having any more?
Me: Umm, no he will be my only one. My husband passed away a few months ago.
JM: Oh I am so sorry. Was it sudden?
Me: No, he had cancer.
JM: How are you coping?
Me: Oh... OK I suppose, I have good days and bad days. Bubbaboo keeps my occupied.
JM: Yeah I bet he does. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
Me: Thanks so much.
JM: See you next week.
Me: See you.
And she left.
After Max passed away, I wanted to join a playgroup but I was scared of the questions asked by other parents about "his father" You know the ones that come up as part of a casual conversation eg. "Oh what does your hubby do for work?" I wasn't ready for the questions because as soon as Max was mentioned I would fall apart and cry hysterically and I didn't want to put any strangers in an awkward situation. So I didn't join and still haven't.
But as time passes I can feel I am healing, I am coping better with these sort of situations. I still cry but usually in in private.
I wondered after my conversation with Johns Mum whether I should have told her that Max had passed away at all. Did I put her in an awkward situation? I could have just left it at "Umm, no he will be my only one." But then she may assume that I only wanted one child, which isn't true. But then it wasn't only Max's passing that ruled out having only one and I wasn't about to tell her about my whole IF history. Since we will be in the same swim class, I am sure the "hubby" question would come eventually, so best to get it over with from the start, I suppose. I thought she coped with it quite well.
There was another situation yesterday at the shopping centre. I was browsing in a small shop and Bubbaboo kept smiling at this old man who waddled along with a walking stick. We bumped into him a few times, not literally.
Old Man to Bubbaboo: Oh you are such a happy boy you are still smiling. ( In a Northern European accent)
Me: Smiling- Yes he is a happy boy.
OM: He must have happy parents? Are you happy?
Me: I try to be. He makes me happy.
I was cornered in a very narrow isle in the shop there was no way out or I would have just moved on now.
OM: And his father, is he happy?
Me: Umm his father passed away a few moths ago. (truth was that Max wasn't the happiest he had freakin' cancer. Would you be happy?)
He was looking down at Bubbaboo in the pram and I was pretending to look at something on the shelf. I could tell he was thinking. He looked up at me.
OM: It must be lonely?
Me: Yes it can be.
By this stage I really needed to get out of the isle so I squeezed passed him, trying to not knock the old man over with the pram. As I walked passed him he patted me on the back.
OM: You are still young.
I suppose it's a bit like infertility, to tell or not to tell. "Are you going to have children?" Do you answer "I am infertile?" That would put them in an awkward situation and I would never have said it to someone I hardly knew. Yet telling people that my husband has died also puts them in an awkward situation. I wonder if people cope better with a conversation about death than they do with infertility. Death is a part of life but IF is still taboo. I tell because I want people to know how it is. Life isn't always rosey, people are in all sorts of different situations. I don't want their sympathy. I want them to go away and cherish their day and their families because life can be short. But having said that I don't want to make them feel uncomfortable.
I know I could have written this post better but I have a huge premenstrual headache and I needed to get this out whilst it was rattling in my head. So apologies in advance if it is misunderstood.
Do you think it's same, same but different?
How would you cope/react in these situations?