Sunday, March 14, 2010

Answer to a Question

Someone asked how I introduce my family to new people. I figured some others may find this information useful so I thought I would answer.

How I answer depends on how the question is asked. If you think of all the ways you introduce your own family to people I bet you would find that there are lots of ways. This is especially true the larger your family gets. 

This was one of my biggest concerns after Camille died and one of the few questions I had for other mothers who had lost children. I found most of them said that how they introduce their family just depended on the situation. At the time I hated this answer. I didn't EVER want to not include Camille in my answer. I felt like that was saying she didn't count and She Does Count. 

Since then I have come to understand why these mothers don't always mention or include their angel children. It is really a pretty big bomb to drop in a casual passing conversation. So I think this is one topic that we mothers of angel children struggle with no matter how we decide to answer. 

I, however, have a few basic rules of thumb for myself when introducing my family. 
1) Don't lie. 
2) Camille counts.
3) Try not to make others feel devastated.

That being said let me give a few examples. 

If I meet someone and I am alone and they ask how many children I have I say 5. If this is a person I will see again and they ask their ages or names or any more detail I say I have an 8 year old, a 7 year old, a 4 year old, one that would have been 2 but passed away and a 10 month old. If I am never going to see this person again (grocery store or something) I say they all 2 years apart and the oldest is 8.

If I meet someone when I have kids with me they often will not ask how many kids I have. If I only have Noble many will ask if he is my first. I say he is my 5th and that he has 4 older sisters. They are usually so distracted by how sad they are for him to have all those older sisters that they don't bother to ask any details about the sisters.

If I have all 4 kids with me people never ask how many kids I have. They just assume that these are all my kids. They will make comments like, "So 3 girls and then you got your boy huh?" To this I sometimes say, "actually there is one more girl not with us." Other times I just don't feel like correcting them so I just nod and smile. 

If it is a passing comment by a stranger I generally don't go out of my way to correct their assumptions. But if they ask directly I tell them the truth. If I am meeting someone who I know will eventually know me well enough to know about Camille I tell them as soon as the opportunity presents itself naturally.

Most of the time I am able to mention Camille and then Noble after and I find that if I at peace in how I mention her then the other person usually feels more comfortable with the information.

I know this is a really personal thing for bereaved mothers face and decide. I think I took my lead from my Grandmother. She lived to be 99 almost 100 and two of her daughters passed away when she was still living. They were grandmothers themselves when they died. I would never of thought to say she only had 4 kids. If anyone asked her she would say she had 6 children. I knew my aunts and had cousins  by them. I would never even think not to include them in the count of how many kids my grandmother had or how many siblings my dad had. 

I guess I feel like just because Camille's life was short and she didn't have posterity to carry pieces of her forward, she doesn't count any less than my aunts. So as much as I can, I include her.

Hope that answers your question. Anybody else got questions?