Object Permanence

July 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop | 34 Comments
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Bun is not yet old enough to grasp the concept of object permanence, to understand that even though he can’t see something, it still exists. Somewhere.

This upsets him. Especially when it’s me he can’t see.

When I put him down for a minute to stir the macaroni or kiss a boo-boo. When I let go of his hand before he’s fully asleep. When he wakes up to see the ceiling fan whirring above him instead of me, smiling.

Oh, how he cries, that fledgling voice wailing more desperately with each passing moment. His hardwired instincts know there’s something out there, someone warm and soothing, somewhere he belongs. But he can’t quite remember what it is; he can only feel its shadow and his deep-rooted need for it. For me.


I’m scheduled for surgery today. It’s minor. It’s routine. It’s probably nothing. Four doctors have told me so.

Most of me believes them. The rest of me is terrified.

Because it’s not routine to me. It’s my health. It’s my life. It’s my fear of not being here, my fear of not being permanent.

None of us are. I know that.

But I think of the years I’ve lived, the days I’ve wished would end, the moments I’ve wanted to last forever. I think of the short time I’ve been a mother — the first tentative snuggles, the bittersweet milestones, the fiercest love I know.

I want more. I want that love to be permanent, even though I’m not.

And I want my children to remember how deeply my heart holds them. How I peel their apples and sing silly songs. How the best part of my day is just before I go to bed, when I slip into their rooms and watch them dream for one quiet moment. How I stroke their hair simply because I yearn for their touch.

Will they remember? Or will they only feel my shadow and their deep-rooted need to be soothed, to be mothered?

Will they understand that even though they can’t see me, I’m still there?

How do you cope with your own mortality? How do remember to appreciate and celebrate each day? And do you view your blog as a legacy of sorts?



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  1. I spend a lot of time telling my husband what my children’s lives should be like if I’m not here to make it happen. And take every opportunity to encourage them to be who they are and proud of what they accomplish. I don’t do much else except love them and let them know they are loved. Hopefully that’s enough.

  2. I don’t cope with it well… I freak out, and need to be near them more often than not. I’m heading to NYC next week for the conference and long weekend – and it terrifies me to think of something happening to me, or the kids in my absence.

    Will be thinking of you! This was so beautifully written. These things that weigh on our minds… it would be unnatural for them not to be there in the background.

  3. My heart was caught in my throat with this post. How beautiful. And profound. And terrifying.

    I deal with my mortality as best I can, as in, not very well. Most days I try to steer my thoughts away from it because it is too dark and scary a place for me and too inconceivable for my little one who has to live with a love far less than she deserves. Because let’s face it, there is no love like a mother’s love.

    Stacia, I wish you well on your surgery and recovery.

  4. My son is my legacy… that’s the only thing I count on. Everything else is trivial.

    Good luck with your surgery. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts. Take care.

  5. I avoid thinking about this at all costs. The thought of leaving behind my son, that he would grow up never knowing me, is just too much for me to handle.

    I hope that your surgery goes well and that you recover quickly. I’ll be thinking of you.

  6. I agree — I felt a strong sense of how quickly life will start flying by when my daughter was first born. It made me sad, but felt so beautiful, all at the same time. Best wishes for your surgery.

  7. Oh my, you took me back in time about a year or so with this – something I’ve not blogged about but maybe should. A time when I had to have lots of investigative work done and the “big C” came up more than once in conversation. Turned out not to be the case but all I could think when confronted with the possibility was “but I can’t leave my daughter!”

    Good luck with the surgery, I totally understand how you are feeling and there is no such thing as routine surgery, all surgery is risky. My husband had spinal surgery last week and I was on tenterhooks waiting for news about him, thinking all the time what would we do it it was not good news.

  8. Eeeks! This one made my eyes sting!
    First of all – good luck today! I hope things go perfectly and that you are some with your sweet kids in no time!
    When Munchie was almost 4 months old I got very sick and ended up in a coma for 6 days (is this a bad time to be telling you this?… you will be FINE!) So I am well acquainted with my mortality. I have a journal that I started writing shortly after I found out I was pregnant. Every few months I write a couple pages about her milestones, her activities, how much I LOVE her. I picture her reading it when she’s 18 or so…. and I really hope that I’m the one who gives it to her.

  9. Oh, I hope everything works out! I’m sure your baby will miss you (and vice versa). Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  10. Thanks, everyone. I am doing well. I’m home and resting and on some pills that are reaaaaaallly good. I got to tuck the kiddos in and tell them how much I missed them today. =>

  11. Glad to hear things went well. Good luck with the rest of your recovery.

    Thinking about something happening to me is so scary. Before kids, I used to love going on the rides at the fair/amusement parks. A few years ago, we took the kids to a fair and my son’s friend decided to go on a really scary ride (Tower of Doom or something like that). I didn’t want him to go alone, so I went with him without really thinking. Suddenly, I was on the top of that ride, about to drop to what felt was my death. I looked down at my husband and two kids watching me from the ground and just felt terrified. That I got on this ride and now my kids were going to see me die and be without a mother. What a horrible feeling! I think about things like this a lot. Too much, I think. Take care, Stacia.

  12. Oh Stacia, I’m glad you’re home and doing fine. (The good meds are good!) I had to have surgery after each of my pregnancies (as if pushing a baby out isn’t enough?) and the first time I was so very terrifited. I cried the whole day before the surgery, on the way in. I was so convinced that it could be the end. Reading this brought me right back to that moment. Mortality is something best left abstract, I think.
    Then again, isn’t it good to remember how essential each of these moments are?

  13. Oh boy. Surgery so soon. I’m glad it went well and you’ve got the good drugs.

    Last Friday Dan and I took a rare hike alone together and got chased out of the mountains by an amazing hailstorm, but not before we huddled under a spruce tree while lightning boomed close by. I thought for 2 seconds about what would happen to those kids if Dan and I died together. 2 seconds. That’s about all I can handle.

  14. I trust the surgery went well. I trust. That’s how I cope with the mortality thing. When I think about it, which is fortunately not very often. I trust some faith within me that my purpose has not yet been met and I’ll be here to see it through. I can’t articulate the faith, the purpose or my knowledge that I’ll see it through, but I trust.

    I’ve never thought of my blog as a legacy, but I see now that it is. That’s a lovely thought, in fact, and makes me love blogging even more.

  15. I hope the surgery went well. It’s such a scary thing, even when it’s minor, especially with so much waiting on your safe return. Some nights I lay awake and think very similar things to what you described. I hope I’m leaving my kids good memory if something, god forbid, should ever happen to me. The thought terrifies me beyond comprehension.

  16. And I just now read above and saw your comment. 😉 Glad you’re home!

  17. Stacia,

    Glad you are home recovering. Take care of yourself.

    I’ve thought about my own mortality after watching my father come to term with his own passing. It is a scary thought thinking about finality, the thoughts of faith and love intertwined. I like the idea of thinking that all of the love that I am giving my daughter will stay with her forever, hoping she will always remember. . .

  18. I’m glad that you’re home and were able to kiss the kids goodnight. Facing our own mortality is terrifying, especially thinking of how our kiddos depend on us. I do try to appreciate everyday, even when the kids drive me crazy, I am so grateful to have them in my life. I do consider my blog as a legacy, but I feel that it’s painting a real portrait of our lives, not a rosy image.

  19. Glad to hear you are home and doing well. Being ill, even if it is recovery ill, is never fun with little ones around. Hope you have some help so you can get some rest while you recover!
    Mourning the loss of my brother-in-law a year ago today, so am all too aware of your thoughts on mortality and our legacy as parents.

  20. You’ve written so beautifully what I’ve been feeling. Lovely.

    When I was discharged and Sprout was in the NICU, I started writing him a letter. It mostly includes facts about his birth and later milestones, details that he might appreciate later. But I also want to tell him how much I love him, that that love it will go on and be with him even when I am not. And I guess eventually I would want to share some of the hard lessons life has taught me, in the hopes (however fruitless) that he might avoid them himself. I suppose it’s like the novel Gilead in a way. Only I don’t say it nearly so well.

    Hope your surgery went easily and that you are recovering easily.

  21. I think I am invincible, I really do…I think I’ll be here waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond the time of their needing me…

  22. Tender and touching, love the photo kissing the top of his head. Lifting you up in prayer that all is well.

  23. Oh, goodness. I will admit to not dwelling. Not right now.

    I hope everything is okay. Seems like a lot to deal with on top of a new baby. Sending prayers and hugs and virtual cookies.

  24. Just now getting to this. I’ve been more a part of my hands and hugs life instead of this virtual wonderland.

    Glad to know your dance into the terrifying was just a dance. Hope it contines that way.

    I took a trip a year ago down the Grand Canyon and that finally prompted me to make a will. Wish I’d done it sooner…but I’ll take responsibility in whatever package it comes wrapped. It felt so odd to be contemplating such weird and morbid thoughts. Especially as I was getting ready to leave my kids!

    I don’t recommend that way of doing things.

    Then, when I came home safe and sound, I realized it was just me having to deal with the idea that I couldn’t control everything. That there was a slight, itty bitty, teeny tiny possibility that I may not be here for my kids. And that thought really sucked.

  25. I’m late to this post. Having children brought mortality home so hard that I find it difficult to even step on a plane these days – somehow the ridiculousness of flying through the air in a tin can is so much more apparent. But we go on. Life goes on, despite the fact that we all know how it will end. What else can we do?

    I hope everything went well.

  26. Of late, I have started to think of my blog as a part of my family’s archive, but your phrase “a legacy of sorts” is even better. I do hope my blog is a legacy, if nothing else a testament to my attempt to celebrate and understand my life and that of my family.

  27. So glad that you are home and doing well. Although, I am sad I missed this post when you first published it.

    I’m too busy worrying about my husband’s mortality to think about mine. : )

    Something I appreciate about blogging is it is saved on-line. I am constantly losing my journals and notebooks but, thankfully, I cannot lose my blog. Well…theoretically I guess I could, but right now I am safe. Also, there are a variety of programs that will publish your blog in book form. I figure my writing is so invaluable that eventually my kids will pounce on that opportunity. (Wink Wink.)

  28. Thinking of you, Stacia, and hoping you’re up and about and well. I don’t like to confront mortality at all – mine or others’ – especially now that I’m a parent. I always admire those who are able to think and write and talk about it, as I employ an avoidance strategy!

  29. I hope all went well for you!

    I usually feel like I’ll live a long, happy life. About six months ago, I felt old. I felt burnt out. I felt chest pains and too much stress. I started playing those feelings forward, and could see that if I didn’t take care of me (first!), illness of some sort would find a place to thrive (in me) So…I started establishing more boundaries, exercising more, getting rid of obligations that don’t bring me joy. AND…I feel strong! Healthy! And, most days, like a much better mom.

  30. I’m so glad I scrolled down and read this post. This is a tough one for me since I lost my Mom suddenly when I was 11. It’s a fear I live with a lot. Not being here.
    I do think of my blog as a sort of legacy. And saying that makes me want to write more about my children, so they will know how much I loved them, always.

  31. Mortality scares me. Your post is beautiful and says things I think late at night when I can’t sleep and the worry sets in. Glad the surgery went well. Can put the ‘fear of death’ back in its box for a while!

  32. And you’re still here! This was a wonderful post Stacia. Very thought-provoking.

  33. This was an important post to revist, Stacia. x

  34. And as Allison said – this being a rewind means you are still here 🙂

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