Nate's snowman ornamentBefore they were born, which is interesting, because they were born in September, my boys were given Christmas ornaments. Two snowmen medallions, given to me by my aunt, who I always associate with Christmas, because it was her favourite holiday. On the back, after they were born, I had inscribed their names. These are Nate and Sam’s ornaments. One is rounder, one more oval, and I made the oval one Nate’s and the rounder one Sam’s, because somehow that’s how I imagine them. Nate being older, would be slightly thinner and taller. Sam, being younger by 6 minutes, would be rounder and more baby faced. The logic in imagining my identical twins this way escapes me, but there you go.

As I decorate the tree this year, like the other years, I find myself lost in these imaginings. How tall would they be, at 10 years old? What would be on their Christmas list? Would they have been able to keep the Santa secret from their brother and sister?

I was distracted while the rest of my family decorated the tree. I didn’t notice that someone (probably my husband, because they were on the highest branches) had already placed their ornaments up. And for a minute, I was mad. Mad because that was my role. This special secret ritual was taken from me. My husband didn’t mean to make me mad. He saw the ornaments and knew how important it was to me that they be there. He didn’t want our other children accidentally breaking them or placing the ornaments somewhere too low and out of sight. So he took care of it. And I had to let it go. This year, that special role doesn’t belong to me.

Parenting is an act of letting go

It makes me realize how much of my parenting journey since loss is an act of letting go. Letting someone else take over the parenting reins for a while. Or letting go of my rainbow children as they grow up and become more independent. Letting go of the mother I thought I was going to be to make space for the mother I actually am. It got me thinking about what an incredible privilege it is to be able to let go, something I’ll never be able to do for Nate and Sam. My rainbow children will one day be fully functioning, successful adults, navigating the world in their own way. In many ways, they already are. Nate and Sam will never do that. I always hold on to them in a way I don’t have to with my rainbows, because they make their own memories.

So this Christmas, as I decorate my tree, make memories with my family and think about my sons, I will commit to letting go. Memories, like ornaments, can be fragile, but they are meant to be shared. These ornaments may have Nate and Sam’s names on them, but they belong to the whole family.

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