I was working on dinner in the kitchen. “Mark Robert!” I called suspiciously. “Mawk Wobewt!” he responded in an almost mocking tone. I shook my head trying not to laugh out loud. “Do not touch the folded laundry on the table,” I said as I continued to cut raw chicken for dinner. Mark grinned, grabbed a pair of socks, and in a small act of toddler defiance, ran as fast as he could into the family room.
It’s official. Mark is two. Admittedly, the terrible twos actually began showing their ugly faces a couple of months ago. I find myself sternly calling, “Mark Robert!” at least a dozen times each day, and time-out has practically become part of our daily routine.
I say Mark’s name so much throughout the day that I typically don’t give it a second thought. However, each time that I say Isabelle’s name or see it written somewhere, something deep in my soul flinches. Not only do I hear and say her name significantly less than Mark’s name, my subconscious associates it with heartache. I wish this wasn’t the case, but when you experience a traumatic unexpected loss, it leaves a scar.
However, deep heartache stems from the intense love that I have for my daughter. I have that same love for Mark. Some days I really dislike cleaning up his spilled milk and changing messy diapers. Some days I am frustrated by the huge tantrum he threw in a parking lot after a big grocery-shopping trip. Some days he steals the folded laundry and throws it all over the living room while I am helplessly cutting raw chicken. Despite all of the frustrations that have accompanied the terrible twos, I love that sweet little toddler boy (who is currently screaming in his crib) with every ounce of my being.
Each day, even a challenging one, is a tremendous gift. Having the opportunity to teach Mark words and explain the world around him is something that I never had with Isabelle. When Mark misbehaves, I am sometimes reminded of all the times that I did not get to yell, “Isabelle Clare!” because of something mischievous that she did. A part of me aches for the opportunity to do that. But I know that it is also a reminder of how precious life is and how important it is to not take a single “Mark Robert!” moment for granted. That is definitely the attitude that I want to have as I move forward after Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month – an attitude of gratitude for all the time I have been given with Mark and the many blessings in my life.
To help encourage that mindset throughout November, and in preparation for Thanksgiving, I will be participating in the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Rather than bombard you with 30 different posts, I will just post once a week. In case you want to join me, I will be following this great schedule:
I also wanted to take a moment to thank you for helping to raise awareness of pregnancy and infant loss throughout October. We still have a few more things to check off the 30 Days of Kindness Challenge, and we will continue to work on it in the coming week. Mark enjoyed doing things such as “helping” me bake cookies for our mailman and pushing lost shopping carts back to their home. We hope to make it a yearly tradition.