It’s a question I often ask myself. What would it really be like? How would we have managed? Would they really have all fitted into the car? Well Saturday we got the answer and I wont lie, it was bittersweet. We looked after my best friend’s son for the day and despite all of the warnings we had received from perfect strangers when I was pregnant, it wasn’t chaos, we didn’t lose a child and we definitely didn’t find ourselves rocking in a corner with a bottle of wine by 7pm. In fact, it was quite the opposite, we had the best day!
But like so many things these days, the experience has left me struggling to appease conflicting thoughts and emotions. I feel torn between the contentment of a great day, the sadness that Alex should have been there and the bittersweet taste of life with three children.
I often got the impression that some people thought we were crazy for having three children. The truth is that I actually wanted four, Rob wanted two and so we did the grown-up thing and compromised on three (with me secretly hoping he would come round to the idea of a fourth). The general consensus was that three children under the age of four was absolute lunacy! Most of my pregnancy was lived out to a soundtrack of “good luck with that!” “It must have been an accident”! “Are you crazy”? “How on earth are you going to cope”? “How on earth will you go to a theme park when one child will be sitting on their own”? “How will you ever be able to cross the road when you don’t have a hand for each child to hold”? My standard reply to these questions was always that we will cope because there is no other option but to cope.
But Saturday taught me something, I learnt that whilst I am in no doubt there would have been tough days where just coping was the only option (isn’t there always with children), there would also have been days where we more than just coped. There would have been days where we excelled at being parents to three children, days where we could pat ourselves on the back and smugly reassure each other that we’ve got this parenting lark sorted. There would have been days where we not only managed to get three children dressed and fed but where we also managed to get out of the house! (A miracle I know!) There would have been days where they screamed with excitement in the car because we were going on an adventure. There would have been days where we made magical memories to last all three of them a lifetime. Having three would not have been the grey hair inducing hell that people seem to imagine it to be and I know that we would have loved every second of it.
So I guess that even though it made me sad to think of what could and should have been, it also settled an internal battle I hadn’t fully acknowledged I was fighting. I realised that I constantly question myself throughout my daily activities, always wondering if I could have coped with Alex in the mix. When I’m rushing in the morning to get two children fed, dressed and at nursery in time for me to get to work I wonder if I would have had enough time to feed and dress an additional child. When I’m battling with two fed up children in the supermarket on a busy Saturday afternoon I wonder how on earth I would have managed with Alex as well. But this is our life now, without Alex, and imagining him in our current lives will never seem like a perfect fit. The reality is, that if things had gone to plan and Alex was with us today then I may not be back at work at all or at the very least I would have been getting up earlier to allow time to get Alex ready as well.
I now realise that the question I need to be asking myself isn’t, how would I have coped? I know for sure that I would have. Instead maybe I can wonder who would have fallen in the mud first? Where would we have gone? What magical adventure would we have imagined? Would we have gone out to hunt for bear’s, fairy’s or dinosaur’s? Who would have eaten all the bread for the ducks instead of feeding them? The thought process of doubting my ability to cope with three children was instilled in me throughout my pregnancy with Alex and then only exacerbated by his loss. His death left me feeling like I had failed my child in the worst possible way and doubting my abilities as a Mother. Our day out with three children gave me back some of what I had lost, confidence in myself.
And the best part of it all? Alex still found a way, as he always does, to send William a white feather. He was there with us hunting dinosaurs in the woods.
Love Rachel & Alex xx