I have a story to tell, but the thing is… sometimes you get to a point that you can’t tell a full story because it belongs to someone else. Sometimes your children grow past the baby and toddler stage, and become these kids with identities, and friends, and privacy, and boundaries. This is a story I can only tell in part, the part that I see through my eyes, and leave out some of the bigger details that aren’t mine to share.
I’ll start this story with a ceiling. A swirling ceiling meant to look innovative; a ceiling higher than the norm so that you don’t feel the pressure of the walls or the weight of why you are there looking at it; a ceiling that serves as a reminder that I have stared at it before. About a year and a half ago, I stared at this ceiling from a different hospital room with a different child, but the echo of fear I felt was the same. Back then, it was with our tiny, 5-week old baby with a bad virus, and this time it was with our eldest after a bad concussion.
Like I said, I won’t go into all the details of the story. But I do want you to recognize the anxiety, and the fear, and the unknown of the situation. A situation where a mother holds her child, a child who cries out over and over for his mother, not knowing that it is within her arms that he is held. Have you ever experienced that? Having someone so dear to you, who is so close to your heart, and they don’t know you and yet they need you? It’s heart-wrenching, that’s what it is. It’s scary. It’s awful.
I’m going to duck out of the story for a moment, not to build drama, but to share a different thread in the storyline. You see, being a stay at home parent, and maybe I don’t need to have the “stay-at-home” part in there, but instead lead with Being A Parent…. it is a demanding role. There are times you feel you have lost part of you in pursuit of encouraging a little person to be their best self, to eat the best food, to have the best manners, to use the best words. Sometimes so much of parenthood is burying your sailor’s mouth, and tucking away the albums of music you played loudly in the car but have terrible subject material, and making sure you are the kindest of kind when people are being the turdest of turds to you. Sometimes, parenthood is crouching yourself down to boost up another.
Needless to say, I’ve felt restless, under-appreciated, forgotten, forlorn, and a plethora of other emotions that aren’t always happy-cheery. I worry that the deficiencies of my childhood are echoing in how I cope with my children’s childhood. I fear that because of X and Y and Z, I am unable to handle 1 and 2 and 3. Am I alone in those feelings? Or have you been caught in those moments of uncertainty, too?
Okay story adventurers, let’s hop back to my original plot: hospital, staring at ceilings, child with concussion. We’ve made it through the night that went quite well without big alarms or sudden turns, and instead vast improvement. A speech therapist is now in the room, going through a series of exercises to test our boy on a variety of factors. She holds a large card with a cartoon drawing of a kitchen, with people cooking and sitting, a brightly colored moment of a typical morning at your average home. She’s asked a few questions about a fallen fork, bread on the counter, and a clock on the wall.
Speech Therapist: Do you see this fly in the kitchen?
Speech Therapist: Should it be in there?
Speech Therapist: What could we do about it?
Quincy: Kill it.
Speech Therapist: Yes, or maybe shoo it out the door?
Quincy: Yeah. Shoo, fly!
She sets down the picture with its kitchen scene and rogue fly, and I hold my tongue from explaining that we don’t tell our kids to kill things, and that we are generally pacifists, and blah blah blah because I worry that my parenting led to my kid yelling, “Kill it!” to a perfect stranger. But like I said, my tongue was held. She leans forward in her chair to talk to him more.
Speech Therapist: And what do you do when it’s really dark? And you’re scared?
Quincy: You hug your mom.
Go ahead, read that response again.
Quincy’s words made my heart do a tumble and tears prick my eyes. He didn’t say, “look for a flashlight”, or “scream my head off” or “flip on a lightswitch”. HE WOULD HUG HIS MOM.
When all is unknown and fearful, he would simply hug his mom. And you know what that made me realize? I’m doing just fine. I might be that hot mess mom, but in the end my child’s instinct is to still go to his mom because mom is safety and love and the sense that all things will be okay.
I don’t know if I wrote this for any of you, but I needed to write it for myself. Momma bloggers can be so selfish sometimes, right? But maybe my stories mirror some of your own. Maybe ticking things down to the basics that your kid sees you as love and safety is all you need to remember. I sure as heck needed to remember it.
And just to be sure I don’t leave one of those awful cliff-hangers to the story, Quincy recovered really well from the concussion. We are thanking God for that.
Who would you turn to if life were dark and scary? Make sure that person (or persons) know that they are a source of love and safe-ness to you. They might need to hear it.