The two roles which take up most of my time are mother and psychologist. Of course, there are other roles I am asked to step into every day: wife, sister, friend, writer, etc. Balancing all of these roles in my life is difficult. I often neglect one role or the other depending on which part of my life is demanding my attention.
One role in my life is a writer. I write in a variety of ways; children’s picture books, blogging for this website, articles and essays, and I am working on a self-help book. I write for many reasons; to create, to express, to teach and hopefully to inspire. Last summer, I wrote for therapeutic reasons. It was a blending of many roles as a person; mother, psychologist, daughter, wife and writer.
Years ago, I experienced a pregnancy loss which was difficult. At the time, my twin girls were two years old. Because I was a mother and grieving, it was challenging to work through the emotions of losing a pregnancy and continue taking care of my children. I worked on dealing with the loss in many ways; seeking support, talking about it with my family and friends, allowing the emotions and pain to surface when it needed to come out.
As you know, being a parent is non-stop. So grieving became complicated at times, especially juggling the busy and hectic nature taking care of my twin daughters. I remember dreading their nap-time because in the quiet of their mid-day nap; the tears would flow, and the pain of losing a pregnancy would rise to the surface. Grieving was exhausting, especially because I had to pull it together when the twins woke up, business as usual, snacks, play-time and other routines.
As the years passed, I worked through my grief. Life is busy, and children force a rhythm with daily routines. I had two more children after the loss. As a psychologist and mother of four, I thought I had come to a place in my life of accepting the loss and moving forward.
For over a decade, I have been hearing comments about either being pregnant with girls, expecting another girl or having four girls. Comments about having four girls happens weekly, not only I hear comments, so too does my husband. We hear a lot of sympathy for having four girls laced with, “poor you,” and “I bet you were trying for a son,” and “don’t stop-keep trying for a boy!” Most of the time we brush the comments off. People don’t mean harm, I truly believe most perceive the comments as benign. However, just because one has a picture or impression of what they see, doesn’t always mean they have the full story.
As I mentioned earlier, I thought I had worked through my grief. Then last summer, I had a conversation with a woman. I was at the beach with my four daughters. A woman came up to me and started a conversation; comments which had become all too familiar. Except this time, I reached an emotional breaking point.
“It’s a beautiful day isn’t it? The surf is so gentle.” Her head tilted to the side examining my family and said, “Are they all yours?”
“Yes, they are.”
“Four girls! That’s a lot of weddings to pay for. Your poor husband! I bet he wanted a boy.”
My stomach clenched. I wanted to get away from this woman immediately. It was a visceral reaction, so I tried to shift the conversation.
“And a lot of college tuition,” I said.
She laughed, and I exited the conversation and focused my attention on my children playing in the sand and surf.
Her comments stayed with me throughout the day and long after leaving the beach.
After my husband and children had gone to bed, I tried to sleep. I couldn’t. All I could think about was the conversation with the woman at the beach. I kept playing back the conversation in my mind:
Are they all yours? Four girls.
That’s a lot of weddings to pay for.
Your poor husband I bet he wanted a boy.
I bet he wanted a boy. I bet he wanted a boy. Over and over this circled in my head. I imagined of all the responses I wish I had said to her.
I knew I had to get my thoughts and feelings out. So I got up out of bed and began writing. I did what I often encourage clients to do-to journal for therapeutic reasons. I wrote for forty-five minutes, all of my feelings, thoughts and frustrations about hearing comments of wanting a son. I have heard comments about gender for almost a decade. The buildup of frustration came streaming out onto the page with my words. I felt a profound sense of relief pouring words on paper, expressing all of my feelings and thoughts.
I had no intention to share my writing until one day last summer, I shared the piece with my writer’s group. They encouraged me to share my story. And that is what I did. I began submitting my piece to writer’s magazines and blogs. I received many rejections, until one day last March, I was chosen to read my story, “Are You Hoping for a Boy?”, in the production of Listen To Your Mother-Providence 2014.
Listen to Your Mother is about giving a voice to motherhood by sharing stories of motherhood to inspire, connect and take people on a journey. The experience of sharing my story was a transformative part of my own healing. While we all have different stories, sharing our own truth helps others find their own voice to share what is important.
Words are powerful.
I am so grateful to the woman on the beach, who made the comments which inspired my story. While annoyed at the time, her words brought a reaction in me I could not ignore. She helped me bring my own healing to a deeper level through writing my story.
If you would like to read my piece from Listen To Your Mother-Providence 2014, “Are You Hoping for a Boy?”, please go here.
@ Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2014