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May 09, 2019
The birth of Royal Baby Archie and the announcement made by the most adorable Prince Harry has had me very thoughtful all week. From the time the news broke and it was announced that Meghan Markle had given birth to a healthy boy to yesterday, when the name was revealed, it has brought up a lot of raw emotions for me. For whatever reason I have always felt a sort of emotional connection to William and Harry.
I distinctly remember when Princess Diana was in the car accident in August of 1997 and the days that followed. From the funeral to their new life without their mother, my heart broke for those boys who I was so close in age to. I am embarrassed to admit that I actually sent Prince William a handwritten note (I found his address in YM...) telling him how sorry I was for his huge loss and if he ever needed to talk to anyone I was here. Oh to be young and naive again!
The feelings of my sadness remains when I think of how they will never see their lovely mother as a doting grandma, how she never saw her boys as grown men, walk down the aisle to become husbands and today, as fathers. Births tend to be very emotional for me. I lost my brother as suddenly and unexpectedly as those boys lost their mother. I was never able to say goodbye, he was never able to meet Michael (he passed away 3 months before we met), see me get married or meet my children and I never saw his life unfold either.
My relationship with my brother was intense. We grew up in a single parent home with my mom. We rarely saw our father who lived out of state and my mom rarely had money for sitters. We were together all the time and, at 3.5 years my senior, my brother often took on the paternal role for me. Since we saw our father so infrequently, I never realized how much I relied on my brother until he was gone. Once Olive was born, I mourned the loss of him all over again, 7 years later. Overcome with emotions, pregnancy hormones, sleep deprivation and new mom fears, I sobbed for my brother. I sobbed for my mother who should never have lost a child she worked so hard to raise. I cried for all of us. Holding this new baby in my arms, I couldn’t bear the thought of ever losing her.
My real dad, who I am now completely estranged from, came to meet Olive for a few hours when she was 1 month old. He did this each month for the first 5 months of her life and I had hope that maybe we could build a stronger relationship for the future. I thought as the years had gone by, maybe he’d softened. I thought he no longer resented me. He no longer paid child support, school tuitions or had to worry about his wife hating that he had a life before her. I thought we could bond over him being a new grandpa and maybe build our foundation on this new life. Maybe he could try to make up for all the things he missed growing up. That wasn’t the case though and we haven’t seen him since Olive was 5 months old.
From the time Olive was 3 weeks old until about a year ago, I was in therapy weekly. I had so much anger and sadness and I was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that my brother had died and my father had abandoned me. These big feelings felt suffocating and I was starting to implode. But with time, self reflection and understanding, becoming a parent has given me more clarity. Our parents are human, humans have flaws and life is unpredictable. While I would love to see my brother beaming with pride about his new child or feel like my father ever beamed with pride when he talked about me, I know a lot of this is my own issue. Not growing up with a stable father figure has greatly affected my self esteem and feelings of self worth. It’s something I am constantly aware of and working on.
When I was pregnant with Gus, I promised my therapist that I would tell my father the news the next time he contacted me. It turned out, that wasn’t until 3 weeks before Gus was born. He wished me a “happy birthday” and I responded with a lengthy note on what has been going on in our life. When I told him I was pregnant, he never asked the gender and just said he was “happy for me and my family” and told me what was going on with him and his family.
I had waited so long for him to reach out and had every intention of going ballistic over email, but I realized I wasn’t angry anymore. While his level of disinterest hurt and has caused many emotional scars over the years, I have found peace with my beautiful family. I have a husband who loves and supports me unconditionally. I have a mother and stepfather who never make me question my self worth and I have children who I love more than life itself. If he wanted to miss out on this chance again, I knew the real problem lied within him and I needed to stop blaming myself. It’s only now, at 36 years old, that I can truly say I don’t feel unlovable and there is nothing more peaceful and comforting than that.
I’ve been thinking a great deal of Meghan and how her relationship with her now estranged father must have affected her during her pregnancy and the days following the birth of Archie. Whether you like your parent or not, it’s hard to feel nothing towards them. While I imagine her road to acceptance has been different from mine, it’s amazing how children can help you heal. I hope she has found peace, comfort and lovability in the beautiful family she has created.
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