Maurice Sendack’s Bumble-Ardy And A Pig In Tigers Skin
I was just reading September Today’s Parent issue on my way into work this morning. In it, there is an article entitled: The Return Of The Kidlit Kings. The first interview is with Maurice Sendack, author of Where the Wild Things Are. He is talking about his new book Bumble-Ardy and one of the Q&A’s had a hard hitting impact on me as a loss mama.
Here is the Q&A in Question:
The Monsters in Where the Wild Things Are were your relatives. Who are the nine pigs in Bumble-Ardy?
MS: There is a sentimental moment where the pigs are in tigers costumes. That was based on a true story of a tiger whose babies died. She went into a colossal depression. A farmer put the babies’ skins on three pigs, then offered the pigs to the mother. She jumped for joy. She completely bought the farce, and she raised the pigs as her own. I memorialized them in Bumble-Ardy, which was done at a time when people in my life were dying. Working on the book make me happy.
Let me start by saying that I KNOW where that mama tiger was coming from, what she was feeling and why she was depressed. I have been there, done that. Now let me say that there is NO WAY she “bought the farce”. Any momma knows the look, feel and smell of her own babies; there is no tricking her into accepting a surrogate. That mama tiger WANTED those baby pigs for exactly what they were; surrogate babies that reminded her of own and thus, were the next best thing. Babies to love in place of her own, that could remind her of her own and let her fulfill her maternal instincts.
When Evan died after 42 weeks in my womb; me preparing to be his momma with each passing week. I was sent into a colossal depression as well. Coming home empty armed when I had been preparing for a baby was a absolutely heartbreaking. Leaving the hospital with an empty car seat in the back was horrific. Coming home to his nursery was crazy making. Not having a baby to nurse when my milk came in was agonizing. Maternal hormones pumping through my body, I was in dire need of a baby to nurture. If someone had said to me just then “I can’t give you back YOUR baby, but here is another little baby boy you can have and love” I would have JUMPED at the opportunity. I would have know it wasn’t Evan, but I wouldn’t have cared. I just wanted to be a mom; to have a baby to rock, to feed and to love. I would have also “bought the farce” according to outsiders looking in. I think it’s so hard for people who have not walked in these shoes to understand. This is precisely why so many loss mama’s loose friendships along the way.
Everything changes when you bury a child, EVERYTHING. From the outside looking in, many of things the loss mama goes through might seem crazy, or selfish. If you only knew the pain they were trying to live with, make sense of and fit into their new reality somehow. If only your truly knew then I think you would give them a bit more wiggle room in the crazy department. All I know is that after I lost Evan, I suddenly found myself empathizing with the crazy lady that steals children from playgrounds or hospital nurseries. I am not saying that this type of thing is ok, and society should forgive it; not for one second. I am just saying I understand. The women in question probably lost a child tragically herself and is just trying to fill that deep empty hole in her heart. Same reason I could totally empathize with Nicole Kidmans’ character in Rabbit Hole.