Wednesday, February 23, 2011

For You? Free.

Xavier, Baby E, and Alexander  - too many years ago, yet not so many

I have a condition.

A condition called "pre-mourning."

I don't call it that. It's what my "expensive friend" *coughtherapistcough* does. 

The lovely lady that I pay a pretty penny to sit across from me and chat tells me this is the name of what I have.

What I have is this: I lament the loss of what is to be whilst I have it sitting right in front of me.


This incredible picture above? I can't even look at it without feeling the wind knocked out of me and having to fall back all needing smelling salts brought to me on the chaise.

These three glorious angel-boys are mine. My boys so long ago, yet, not so long ago. How could I not have felt the golden moment when this picture was taken, while I had it in my hand? I can guess.

Probably some of that "pre-mourning" stuff. I was probably lamenting some photo that I had found that morning that showed them still in diapers. Whilst, right there, I had heaven on earth, right there.


A few days ago when I came across the picture above, while searching for a picture of my husband for another post, I fell headfirst into the jaws of this Pre-Mourning situation.

This state of being that feels like such an unconquerable sadness, I can't even swallow away the ball in my throat. Oh, the sweet days with my little ones are flying for them, and slipping through the grasp of mine. So much in the same way my littlest tries to catch water under the tub faucet.

I sit across from my "expensive friend,"  and I lament the passing of the days, complete with back of the hand on the forehead, looking off mid-distance. The whole deal. Stuff they give out Academy Awards over.

I sigh to her:

Me: "but.but... the days of toy trains are gone.."

She: "but they're still home with you now."

Me: "but... but... it's all over, my days of fullness are all over."

She: "but they're still home with you now."

Me: " soon...t.hey'll be gone, gone..."

She: "but they're still home with you now."

Bless her sweet heart, she tries--oh, how she tries--over and over and over. Same-time-next-week at our next appointment she tries. She has hope, but will I ever get to where she hopes to get me?


What she tries so delicately to tell me and hint at, since she is unable to tell me directly (you know, rules of therapy and  insights arrived on one's own are much more meaningful, etc.),  is that my sadness is over not living in the moment--being there in the day captured in the pictures taken. Missing the present for lamenting the passing. Not being with them in all the glory of the being there. At that age, at that stage, with them.

My expensive friend--I ache for her, and for the pleading I see in her own eyes, as she tries to convince me. She so badly wants to teach me how to lift the gloom that takes on a life of its own once I birth it.

I carry a piece of my paper in my purse that I pull out and try to read. Maybe someday I'll be able to without the lens of a watery blur. I hear the words in my friend's voice. I stare at it. It reads, "Who pushes back on time to stop it is pushed back by time in its march. He who yields to it- finds it on his side."


  1. Oh you had to go there, huh? I'm starting to get weepy now.

    My littlest one is not even out of diapers yet and I too am suffering from this same condition of "pre-mourning" with my own 3 little men.

    But your expensive friend does have a point: you (and I and the rest of us Mamas) need to live in the moment. Cherish and bask in each precious present moment because you too made a good point: it will soon be gone.

    Here's the cool thing though: ...gone, only to be replaced by new, precious moments as they grow into adulthood. I hear sons always come back to their Mamas, even after they go out into the world.

    By the way, such handsome guys you have!

  2. OH man I am so with you. I make DVD's using old pictures and as I go through the pics I lament on those lost days, how quickly they have grown. Where did the time go and how quickly they will be gone. Sigh I will pre mourn with you hun

  3. Hi Empress....just reading this gives me the "ball in the throat" feeling....sometimes I sit and watch the home movies and just cry...but it is a good kind of cry as embrace those moments in time that I shared with my gorgeous honor what I have now...and to envision the wonderful events of the future...I must admit though pre mourning is painful and I think we all do it at least our expensive friends keep us on the right track...imagine where we might be without them...!

  4. i hear you...they grow up so fast...i am enjoying the journey as i can each age a different kind of fun...

  5. I'm more of a futurist. But either way, we miss out. Stupid brains getting in the way of actually living.

  6. Well now I have to blink back the tears and swallow the lump to type. Beautiful, beautiful words. I love that term, one I need to conquer as well, you spoke right to me and my "pre-mourning" self through this whole post. Such handsome boys you have there as well. Hope you are enjoying exactly who they are today.

  7. I know exactly what you mean. Last weekend my husband and my son were out of town and I was alone, something I had looked forward to for a long time. Instead, I was a mess and despressed, agitated and irritable. Someone said to me, "do you think it's because they went to look at colleges" and I realized that YES!! My baby is looking at colleges. Soon, I will be an empty nester and I'm in shock, I miss the projects, the trains, Legos, play mobile... On the other hand, I've started blogging and the great unknown awaits me.

    Don't mourn before you have to. There will be plenty of time for that later.

    Lots of love! Lynn

  8. Sometimes it seems time goes so fast we can't hold on to it even in the moment. I keep little pieces around that hold me together. A Barbie brush in the laundry room. A hair elastic with those little colored balls on it in my drawer. So just for a moment, here and there, nothing has changed.

    I have a slip of paper pinned to my corkboard. As soon as I read this it came to mind and I think it fits. It says:

    "Look around yourself. Your answer is nearby": )

  9. Oh Empress, if only I could explain how fulfilled watching those days pass with my daughter made me feel. Each new age/accomplishment. Every step completed was not a loss, but another milestone conquered.
    The baby cuddles replaced by hugs of the perfect young woman.
    And then the gift of watching as she begins her own journey of parenthood.

    Don't mourn the past, rejoice in the memories. Don't fear the future, welcome each new adventure it brings.

  10. I understand this so, so well.

    I try to remember, though, that for all we have lost and will lose, there is more that is wonderful to come. There will be gifts at every stage.

  11. I'm so there. You bring them home from the hospital and you blink your eyes and they're walking.

    I have the same condition, and mine are still little.

    Great quote. I need to write it down and carry it around with me.

  12. My baby turns one in April.
    I can not stop it from happening.
    I have to go back to work.
    I look back on my year with a heavy heart.
    This post, this quote.
    Resonated deap with me.

  13. As my mother so indelicately put it to me, "If you stand with one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, you're pissing all over today." And yet I became a Buddhist anyway. Ha. Learning to live in the moment is one of the hardest (the hardest?) journeys of life. I feel your same ache with my fat-cheeked baby girl right now.


    P.S. I have a "Maximus" too. He's seven.


  14. I have this too. All the time I am watching my kids do amazing things like blowing out their birthday candles and all the while I am thinking they are getting older, this is the last time they wil be x age. I am going to lose it. Some day I will have no baby. That day is here. Violet is 1. I think I need an expensive friend too.

    xoxo your bys are gorgeous and they are still with you!

  15. I do the same thing. I cried when my first born went to kindergarten.

    Sometimes I feel like such an asshole.

    I think this condition many of us are suffering from is called Motherhood.

  16. Well I guess now I know what I have too. I'm pretty sure this must be part of the package when you sign up for motherhood. It's like...

    "Want a baby?"
    "Okay, well here is your broken heart, and your lost waistline, and your frazzled mind, and your tears, and your pre-mourning, and your worry center, and your intuition, and, and, and..."
    "But I just wanted a baby."
    "Sorry it's a package deal..."

    I totally feel you. Even if you love them right now, exactly where they are and who they's so hard not to miss who they were a year or two or three ago.

  17. Now comes the fun time of girls and armpit hair!

  18. Got it. Totally understand. Going through it. Ohhhhhhh......

  19. tell me about it. MY oldest will turn 12 in July...and she already has boys on the brain...and soon she will be dating...and makeup and and and...
    Where's my little snuggler?
    I will pre mourn with you as well...

  20. it may work now, so my comment is valid :)

  21. Oh, sweet Empress, I'm sorry. I understand the feeling of good times slipping away, the fear that they will disappear while you are blinking. Hugs to you.

  22. I have to stop looking through my photo albums (remember those? Before the internet??) because all I do is remember the great places I visited, the fabulous people I met, the great gigs I played and the friends now gone to the other side.

    I had a friend who never let herself be photographed and never took a picture. Now I see why.

  23. And also? That picture of your boys makes me weep and they're not even my kids. (see my last comment)

  24. Ok, I'm getting all teary now and want to run home and hug my boys.

    That's such a wonderful photo of your can see all their personalities.

    Why do we have to let go? They'll always be our babies. They'll always need Mom, especially if we don't teach them how to do laundry so it forces them to come visit us. :P

  25. I am living what you are dreading... My oldest (alomost 23) while she still lives @ home is rarely home and getting married next year...

    My younger daughter(almost 20)... is away @ college 4.5 hrs. away...

    and my baby *sigh*(all 6'1 /17 y/o) is going to be a senior in high school next year...

    The only solace I can give you is that each stage is wonderful in it's own unique way.... and as they do become adults your relationship becomes different and actually really nice.... as they get older you seem to become smarter in their eyes...*imagine that*

    Then there is the teaser of the ultimate solace....

    grandchildren :D

  26. The other day, my husband pulled out a roll (on the computer but I still like to call it a roll thankyouverymuch) of old baby pictures...

    In 1.3 seconds flat, I morphed into a hot teary mess!

    He (who thankfully comes at little to no cost unless you count the dear cost I pay for cleaning his socks...) says ..

    ....'Whatthehell's the matter with you? It's not like he's dead. Calm the f&^%! down'

    Saying that they'll never understand won't even begin to cover it.

    I love you for posting this and will be sending you my bill for tissues and cheap mascara shortly.

  27. I am so happy--without sound like a sick ut--but, still, so glad I'm not the only one with this diagnosis.

    Thanks for the commiseration, and for the feeling of you get me...thank you.

  28. uh...that would be sick nut. not ut. what the heck is an ut, anyway??

  29. You just diagnosed me!!! I have that too!!! I save some $$ now and don' thave to go get an expensive friend. Whew!

  30. NO, you surely are not alone. And I'd even venture to say that in addition to the pre-mourning I've adopted this psychosis about needing to freeze time in the moment. I DO think I enjoy the moment that I am in to the fullest. I am afraid that I am hyper aware of it though and tend to be overly sensitive about trying to remember every little moment. *sigh* I'm adding this to my list of things to discuss with my expensive friend next week...

  31. I so struggle to live in and truly enjoy THIS moment, especially when this moment has toys everywhere and poopy butts and runny noses and skipped naps. But I know, I do know, that I'll be yearning for these days someday in the future. My line that I repeat to myself and to God is, "Thank you for my life, exactly as it is."

  32. I think I need to write that down and keep that quote in my purse too. This was so beautiful - and I was just telling somebody yesterday that for as much as I complain about the day-to-day craziness, I don't want it to end, either.

    I'm going to include this post in my Saturday favorites - I know so many people can relate.

  33. A few years ago I cried every single day.
    We lost three friends in a few short months, each with young children and each of them in their early 40's.
    It was an awful time, for some reason I was sure I was going to die and would never see my children grow up.
    It was so real too me.
    Ian thought I had truly gone insane.
    But it was real in my mind.

    I try and focus on each day now, appreciate the here and now, enjoy every moment.

    But some nights ... I still cry, silently ...

  34. That is a wonderful quote! I always worry that I am missing moments-little moments. Just today I was talking with friends about how I don't pull out the camera enough to document all of my youngest's everyday moments like I did with her sister. In a few years I worry that I will regret that and will keep pondering all those little memories that I've lost.

  35. Pre-mourning. What a term.

    What a truth.

    Enjoy your moments. Enjoy them NOW.

    A fantastic reminder.

  36. Wow, it's like you're taking the words right out of my heart. Maybe not the specifics, but the feelings. I have never been able to hold onto something in the moment. Example: The fact that right now, I wish it was Christmas time again. I feel like I didn't live guessed the moment. I was probably too busy worrying about some other moment.

    Le miserable, exasperated sigh.

  37. Oh boy. Now I'm all teary and mushy and here come my kids off the bus. Think I can convince them to let me love on them for a bit.

    Probably not. *sigh*

  38. But...but...they're still at home with you right now.
    And you do realize, in this day and age of lazy adolescents (not saying yours are...mine are though) they may never move out.
    Like EVER.
    That'll be $'re welcome :)

  39. Ah, the old "Anticipatory Anxiety" suffered by my dear friend Jill. I make her walk my dog with me at least once a month so that somewhere along the route I can say, "You're doing it again. You need to stop being anxious about things that may not even happen" or she goes crazy. You are so not alone...

  40. Have you read the book "The Power of NOw" by Eckhert Tolle? If not you should.

    Think it might be just what you need.

  41. Thank you for the free diagnosis of my condition. Because I have it bad.

    So bad, in fact, I keep thinking of having MORE children. Perhaps I believe that if the door of my womb keeps revolving, I'll never be alone. Or something.

    Then a wise friend pointed out that if I had new babies while my current kids are 11, 13, and HOME WITH ME NOW, I would miss the last few years that they are. Home with me now, that is.

    So I feel you. Deeply.

    And I didn't even have to talk to $he. So thanks.

  42. I should $end you money for your friend (wink), because I relate so much to this post. I miss my babies and fret about the future and have a difficult time being absolutely present. I am working on it, but it's tough for me.

  43. Yes I completely get what you are feeling.

    My two oldest kids are 19 and almost 21 and both in college away from home.

    My relationship with them is different now that they are adults, but it is also so very enjoyable. To relate to them as adults and people I like? Is wonderful.

    It is an entirely different kind of joy.

    You'll be delightfully suprised.

    Until then? Please do enjoy where they are for what it is.

    much love to you and your boys. I have been poking around in your archives and having a blast!

    that is all

  44. First of all, those are some incredibly gorgeous children and now even I feel sad that they're growing up. Secondly, stop making me cry!!!!!

  45. I had no idea there was a name for this phenomenon... although it feels more like actual mourning. I have been hit hard with my youngest child's sixth birthday. I yearn for the lazy days with a toddler by my side.

    But your therapist might be right. If we embrace this time, maybe we won't mourn it's passing quite so much.

  46. That is the most beautiful picture. Seriously.

    And I think we all suffer from this, to some extent. The "not living in the moment to the fullest" - whether we're looking to the future and wanting to get on with it, or being nostalgic about the past.

    I learned a word in college - yes, I really did - the Polish word for nostalgia is tesknota. I love that word.

  47. yeah it stinks. My children are getting to that older stage. Like in August I won't be able to go to Target because I will see all those moms and their daughters buying all their college gear and then I will start to cry and make a fool of myself because I will start thinking Oh My God!!!! that is going to be me soon. My daughter is 11, but I can't help it!

  48. Mine is 16-1/2. Less than two and a half years of high school left. Our conversations revolve around college, driving, girlfriends. I see a picture of him as a baby and it KNOCKS ME BACK. My breath catches in my chest, I find it hard to breath. I'm so afraid I'll miss a moment that I need to absorb, to enjoy, to hold onto. Sigh. I feel your diagnosis.

  49. Interesting...Girl Child has a tendency to get so sad about things that haven't happened but, as she'll say, "They are GOING to happen!"

    I didn't know it was something that other people did too.

  50. Oh, I feel this way too. They are closer to adults now than they were toddlers. I miss that time, so sweet. I look forward to the future, but I am sad that this time is fleeting.

  51. Oh dear! I have spilled tears on my keyboard. Is it still working? bsszzzt

    It's true about being in the moment. How did we not know those moments would be gone.

    I remember many of them and am trying like hell to live in this moment, right damn now.


  52. I recognize myself in this so much. And my little guy is only a year old. We have to cherish the moments we have I guess

  53. I try hard to keep from dreading the future so I can enjoy the present. It's tough!

  54. Live in the moment AND pre-mourn -- I can do both! I am THAT good. Tell your expensive friends thbffft from me. :)

  55. I am the same way as you! The other day I looked at a photo of my almost five year old when he was about two and started crying. HELLO what am I going to do when they are teens? I seriously get heart ache because I feel that time is just going by too fast, life is too crazy and I better SLOW down to enjoy it!

  56. I think you're amazing.

    I don't do the pre-mourning, but I do tend to dwell [particularly on the times I've failed in my eyes], which is also a delightful way to NOT stay in the moment.

    Be here now.

  57. Pre-mourning. I never knew there was a word for it. But it makes sense to me, Alexandra, it really does.

    Because how often are we really in the moment that's happening without either thinking of what is to come or what's passed? And with our kids, it hits so deep.

    You are wonderful enough to be MY expensive friend, and I adore that you are simply free. This is beautiful, you are beautiful, and those boys? Absolutely gorgeous. Angels.

  58. I know what you're saying, friend. I think I was in pre-mourning before my first one was even born. But, enjoy the moments we must.

  59. It has a name? Interesting.

    I experienced this when C was really small, but not so much now. Sometimes, yes. But I think my issue is more appreciating the moments while they're happening instead of being overwhelmed by what are really fairly inconsequential things.

    But taking the time to post something like this is a great step towards appreciating them and not mourning each day they grow older :)

  60. Ahhh...pre-mourning...I'm afflicted too.

    But yes, I must try really hard to celebrate and enjoy the right here and now.

    Beautifully written Alexandra. Thank you.

  61. I think pre-mourning is a symptom of the condition called motherhood... but you and your expensive friend are right, it's not healthy and we have to try to get rid of it. Try...

  62. I am pre-mouring preschool and it doesn't even start until September.

  63. YAY FREE!!!

    And so fricken true. And sad. And profound. And all that!

    OMG - I find myself in times of premourning. Wanting to hold on so tight so things stay exactly as they are. But not really because I'm not rolling in joy at the moment either. Such a paradox!!

  64. Oh Empress! I SO get it! But somehow you need to get yourself into the present and embrace what you have! You must! Personally I am lucky enough to know that I am presently in, what I like to call "the bubble". THESE are the good times. I have 3 beautiful, healthy boys (no matter how much I make fun of them on my blog) AND 2 healthy parents. The scale is balanced JUST SO and wont stay this way for long. Bigger kids lead to bigger problems and God knows how long my parents will be healthy. My point? Recognize the good times. (Lord knows we all know how to recognize the bad ones!) Smell the roses. Hug your babies. This is a whole lotta mush coming from Lola, but you struck a cord today! Sorry if I'm being preachy! By the way, I love what Renee said! Very eloquently stated!

  65. It's because, if you're anything like me, you spent most of your life working towards the next big goal--graduating from this, getting that job, getting married, having kids, etc., etc., and so it's hard to realize that having reached those major milestones, there are reasons to slow down and enjoy what you have rather than looking to the next thing. It's Type A all over. BUT. One way I find to combat that is to continue setting goals, but make them different kinds of ones: like, instead of "publish that book," it's "laugh 5 times a day." That second kind of goal often gets you living much more in the moment than in anticipation of the next one.

  66. *sigh*

    I'm guilty.

    I'm also guilty of thinking, "We still have so much time," despite KNOWING that the weeks are flying by like they never have before.

    I am planning more.

    I am carving out more.

    I only have a few years left.

  67. Sometimes I can hear the sand as it trickles through the hourglass and it makes me panic. I was lamenting how quickly this year has gone by as my baby's 1st birthday approaches and my dad looked at me with tears in his eyes and said "How do you think I feel?" We never have enough time...

  68. Greetings from Southern California.

    I added myself to follow your blog.
    You are more than welcome to visit mine
    and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You, ~Ron

  69. I thought 'pre-morning' was actually just 'night.'

    The more you know.

  70. I'm with you all the way. I tend to even miss the future. I become sad at the thought of my grandkids growing up and I don't have grandkids yet nor do I expect to anytime soon.

    Huh, I thought maybe I could get therapy vicariously through you but reading this back, maybe I'm going to need to go with a more direct approach.

  71. Oh, great -- now there's something ELSE wrong with me. Pre-mourning -- who knew?! I feel your pain, Sovereign one. Even worse, I look at pictures from a few years ago and I think, "holy crap, I was so frustrated with him for x/y/z issues we were going through at the time (ADHD etc) that I didn't see that he was still SO LITTLE. And then I have to think, in a few years I'll look at pictures from today and think how sweet and small and vulnerable he looks. But does having an Ex$pensive Friend/Therapist tell you that you have Pre-Mourning issues help you to live more in the moment? Also, I'm sure I have non-therapist friends who are more expensive than your therapist. Like the one whose husband likes to order $900 bottles of wine when it's our turn to pick up the dinner tab. Those friends don't even give good advice, unless we're discussing the wine list. We don't go out with them so much anymore... ;-)

  72. You know what they say..the days are long, and the years are short. Truer words were never spoken, were they?

    I can look at my kids' faces, think of where they were just a few short years ago and my heart just clenches up.


  73. I will never renounce Christ, OK? BUT, having said that, I think that studying Zen teachings is the only thing that keeps me from getting completely sucked under in this phenomena, this pre-mourning business. Living in the moment sounds like the simplest thing, but it's amazingly hard, isn't it?

  74. I did the same thing with my son!! Couldnt enjoy completely the time with him when he was young because of my pre-morbid fascination with empty nest. I didnt handle it very well when he actually did grow up and move out. Carpe Diem Sweetie...if you can.

  75. This is a gorgeous post. With genius little throw-ins like your "expensive friend"- I love that. But mostly, I just feel exactly where you are coming from. My husband and I are constantly looking at our daughter hoping to freeze this moment because we can't imagine it getting any better. But then that next moment comes and we like it even more. But it is all passing too quickly. And I know before I know it, she will be grown. The sadness of that (yet that is also the goal) is too much to think about.

  76. This is so wonderfully written, thanks for sharing this with us.

  77. What an absolutely great line!

  78. Oh the tears they are a-fallin'! I do this, too, you know. Borrow worries. Steal time away from myself. And I beat myself up over it at night and then start all over again the next day (I'm Type A like that). But you? You remind me to slow down and squeeze my children extra tightly. Your whole presence and being speaks to a goodness and sweetness and appreciation of the good stuff that I adore. But you knew that, right? XO for realsies! :)

  79. Not even gonna read the other comments because DAMN 78! But. I had to add my 2 cents for what they're worth (which, apparently, is Two cents.)


    Living in the moment doesn't mean letting go of the knowledge that they'll be gone someday. Accepting and acknowledging the rapid changes of my children helps me. It HELPS. I swear. Without weeping over their projected absence, I tend to zip through life without pausing to savor things. When I mourn the past and pre-mourn (a BIT), it helps me. Seriously.

    So, just cut back on your pre-mourning. Let yourself delve into it. Go crazy with crying and moaning and weeping. For 20 minutes. And then? Then you suck it up and jump into the day and enjoy what you have in front of you.

    That's an order.

    For free.

  80. Oh I get this I realy do! I suffer from both this and some kind of future planning disorder. Hoping they even eachother out:)

  81. I need this, and you, in my life right now.

  82. OH.MY.GOD.
    I could have written ever word of that. That is if I wrote as well as you!! Point being, I get this. I so get this.
    Huge mom hugs, from over here in Seattle.

  83. I'm so glad that you can all relate. Not that I want you miserable, just that you know what I mean.

    SIGH. WHY do we do this to ourselves?

    Thank you, for all your lovely commiseration.

  84. Love love love this post. I find myself pre-mourning all the time. And they're still right here with me...making messes, and making me laugh and making me cry and making more messes. I must find a way to just live in the moment.

  85. You know me, I LOVE me some free therapy! Thank you!

  86. Ah. . . crud!!!!! Thanks a whole bunch for this free therapy!!!! I could have used this for the past 18 years!

    My one and ONLY Angel Boy just moved out two weeks ago. I celebrated my 24 hours of no crying just about an hour ago. Well, I won't be earning any coin tonight! I am a blubbering idiot. This just sent me right down the path to the river of Mothers Tears.

    Dearest, you have a fabulous expensive friend. And I leave you with this one comment. . . .

    "but they are right there in front of you, with you, touch them, hug them, squeeze them, forget the house work, forget everything and just be in their space."

    Oh, that was more than one comment but you get the point! I am sending you gianormous hugs because I too have suffered with "Pre-mourning". That is the worst feeling in the world isn't it?

    I want to validate that for you, as a bloggy friend. But while you are getting all teary about it, hold those boys really close!!!!! Go ahead!!!! Do it now!



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