For the majority (if not all) of my adult life, when asked the question(s), “What do you do?” Or, “What is your title?” My answer has remained the same, “I am a mom and a wife.” This response comes as result of what I have found to be most fulfilling for me. Ironically, what my parents considered to be an insignificant station in life, has been my most joyful experience. In fact, when I became engaged to my, now husband, my father was terrified that I would be “stuck in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant!” It was not a path encouraged, to be sure. And truly I had no intentions of beginning my life into motherhood as early as I did, though am grateful Providence crowned me “mom” at a young age. And so despite my upbringing having given me a different impression, I quickly discovered for me, motherhood was in and of itself my best reward.
I found myself, through the years, speaking to my earthly father (though he departed quickly to Heaven just one month before my son was born) out-loud, “Dad, you were wrong. I am not ‘stuck’ in the kitchen. The kitchen is my most favorite laboratory, and I am grateful to be here!” Now pregnancy, that is another story altogether. I seem to be allergic to pregnancy for I remained very ill until childbirth, with complications requiring bed-rest beginning at 19 weeks. And though prior to ever having conceived I had hoped to have my ‘quiver very full’ with little blessings, my two pregnancies were quite enough–hands down!
So G-d blessed Brian and I with two lovely children. Pains in the neck, at times, but genuinely enjoyable people. Nice people, funny and quirky people. Adventurous little humans, inquisitive, smart, engaging, wise, free spirited and loving. And so being the mother of two was title sufficient for me. Being a unit of 4, bliss–fun and full of abundance.
Which brings me to my present difficulty–relinquishing the crown. I have been a mother of two for more years than not. My experiences in life viewed through the lens of having two children–illnesses, education, relationships, sports, arts–the list goes on! And now that I am down one, with the loss of my son, I still do not know how to navigate conversation or situations without wearing the crown most familiar. Yet my heart is so achingly sorrowful that I wish not to touch upon the subject of our familial loss, though how can I avoid it? But avoid it I must.
My writing has slowed down this past year, as has my sociability–or ability to casually converse. My slowdown is due to fact I am keeping fast paced in the land of distractions. That is correct, down time and thoughtful contemplation is not for me, not right now. I use work, I use the comedy radio station, I use solitaire, I use the present, I live in the moment and I use music from my own childhood which connects me only to pre-children Rivka. If not well versed at letting go my station, I am very keen at keeping distracted.
Do you have children? Yes, I have two. How old? My son 23 and my daughter 18 (yes, I’ve allowed Cole to age). Oh, are they in school? My son is a Marine and my daughter will transfer to a university in the fall.–Now here is where strategy, BentRivka style is implemented—
I always lead with my son’s information and follow with my daughter’s so I may distract my present company by weighting her circumstance more heavily, which allows for the perfect transition to the general topic of education/academia. Voilà, the conversation moves from the personal to the general. And hopefully NEVER circles back to the subject of my son.
You see, I can’t. I am still the wearer of the crown. I am still queen of my castle and I remain ever devoted to my station. I will go down with my ship and I will not abdicate the throne. Sadly, I don’t know how. And every time I try to wrap my mind around the possibility, the disbelief of my new reality envelops and its well of sorrow too profound to draw from. Engage distraction #1…etc. Aaaah, the sweet smell of survival!
So being my literary well is presently lacking, I invite you to a little piece written while in the land of the living, back in December 2012. It was during a time of difficulty, to be sure, though definitely not a time of distractions. Bon appétit!
Mandibular Trauma: https://bentrivka.com/2012/12/02/mandibular-trauma/