I sit on the hard bench in the warm sun watching two of our chosen children run the field in the 5 year old soccer game. Lane is running down the field with his arms pumping with a might I’ve never seen before. His little brother Evan trails behind the whole team seeming a bit lost as he is technically a year too young to be playing. Both of them smile the whole game shining pure joy everywhere.
I snap a few pictures with my nice camera to be able to send to my friend Sam later that day. I enjoy watching the boys play for an hour but am also slightly distracted. We attend many of their events; games, concerts and plays. It is an honor and joy to be such an active part of their lives, it is something I am beyond thankful to their parents, our friends, for letting us be.
But there are always the whispers in my heart.
They would have turned four years old later this summer and early fall.
The three babies left only in my heart and only seen as embryos in a black and white photo from our infertility clinic.
Each year that passes I wonder about something new. Each year that passes I am reminded that this loss is for forever. Each year that passes I honor them more.
Would they have played soccer? Combining my husband Chad’s track star ability and my dancer grace to be a great player? Would they have been the star goalie or the one doing pirouettes on the field instead of kicking the ball? Would they have loved reading and math, or maybe all of the above?
As a therapist, I am always observing human behavior, and Lane and Evan’s soccer games are no different.
I observe as the therapist.
I wonder as the mother who will never get to see her own children play on the field.
What kind of soccer mom would I have been?
I doubt I would have been the coach. I don’t do sports with balls.
Would I have been the mother screaming at the top of her lungs, “Come on, kick it in! Hustle!”?
Would I have been the mother gossiping with the other mothers, taking advantage of the adult conversation available for that hour?
Would I have been playing on my phone because it was the only time I ever get to myself?
Would I have been at work and missed the game completely?
It is probably safe to assume I’d be some version of all the above moms at some time or another.
With what I know now, I’d like to think I would be the engaged, present and happy mom. The one smiling on the sideline at their child running down the field knowing that even though we have yet another game next weekend, that this moment will never be lived again by any of us. That this moment can be stolen in the time it takes for your heart to beat just one time.
Or that you will never get this moment ever.
That this moment is all that we have.
I can only write these wonderings, I suppose, because it is these moments that I will never get to experience, at least not with my own children.
I would give anything to have to be the Google educated coach because no one else would volunteer.
I would give anything to yell and cheer from the sidelines.
I would give anything to desperately need adult conversation.
I would give anything to have to squeeze in my phone time during a game.
I would give anything to feel the guilt of a working mom missing the game.
I would give anything to feel the pressure, the guilt, the joy, the exhaustion, the frustration, the love, the everything of being a mom.
I suppose I do feel some semblance of all of it, just as a mom without her kids on the field and only in her heart. I do feel these things as a childfull mother who has to look for, create, ask for and receive other ways to parent.
I will never be the traditional soccer mom.
But the embodiment of all the qualities of her?
Well, they took root the day I dreamed of being a mom.
This is the longing joy I must live with for the rest of my life.
Sitting along the soccer field sidelines in the bright sun cheering on some of my chosen children is both fitting and honoring of all the children in my life here on earth and in heaven.
Justine Brooks Froelker is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (based on the research of Brené Brown) working in private practice. She is the author of her book and blog, Ever Upward, and an advocate for breaking the shamed silence of infertility and loss and fighting to recovery thereafter. She also writes for The Huffington Post, St. Louis Health & Wellness magazine and appears regularly on the morning television show Great Day St. Louis.
Justine lives in Saint Louis, Missouri with her husband Chad and their three dogs Bosco, Gertie and Gracie. She enjoys her childfull life by spending time with friends and family, practicing creative self-care, laughing (sometimes at herself) and building butterfly gardens on her acre of land, which has made her an accidental monarch butterfly farmer.