Being a mom requires grave risk; we must love our children wholeheartedly knowing full well if we lose them, our heart will break into a thousand pieces.
I went social media dark for a week, trying to make sense of what happened last Friday, what it means, and what I should say about it.
In full irony, just before my silent retreat, I reflected on coming into a time of adventure and magic in my life. After posting about The Day I Ran with the Wolves, I shared an image on Instagram about my afternoon "break" to wear my SAHM hat and put up some fall decorations in my home. I accompanied this post with words about honoring our most authentic selves, along with the importance of savoring.
Interestingly, this post struck a nerve with a lot of moms who commented, "Me too." It seems many of us face an internal struggle to be and do more than we are at any given moment. We shy away from rest, fun, and play or whatever it is we really want to do thinking, There's simply no time for that...
Yet taking full advantage of the stolen opportunities I find to recharge is what sustains me through the hard times. At least, I believe my moment of savoring helped me remain resilient last Friday as I shifted into the after school chaos, and found myself fighting intense anxiety.
The minute William walked through the door, I could tell something was off. We had to turn around fast for Girl Scouts and tennis, so I was on autopilot saying, "Put your bag down, wash your hands, have a snack, and do it fast!"
Eddie was home and neither of us could ignore William's drooping eye lid, or the fact that the entire right side of his face was twitching. I said, "Let's not panic; we'll just observe. It's no big deal. He'll be fine."
But then his left side was oddly stiff, so I locked eyes with Eddie and we and exchanged a thousand unspoken words about the fear that suddenly surrounded us.
The last time we stood in this dark place together was after a pot of boiling water came crashing down on our boy.
As you know, William not only survived, but is thriving in the aftermath of the life threatening injury he suffered as a toddler. Actually, for the fist time in over four years, I’ve not been worried about him; this has been liberating.
Still, the ride to the hospital for this "focal seizure" brought back an intense flood of old memories. While our recent scare was a much different scenario than a scald burn, the voice to my rising fear still wondered,
Am I going to lose him?
Doctors were able to rule out a lot of really scary things right away, but we remained overnight for a myriad of neurological tests. Eddie went home to the other kids, and I found myself snuggling with William in a hospital bed, writing the bones of this post.
This was an eerily familiar scenario for the last time I wrote snuggled up to William, he was two, and we were in an ICU burn unit. That's when my words organically emerged in the world and I started following my calling to be a storyteller.
Now you're finding me here writing about resilience and motherhood yet for all the growth I've realized in the aftermath of trauma, last week's scare still brought me back to an ugly place where I was initially thinking,
Why? I've got the adversity thing down, alright!? What is the lesson I need to learn here? Uncle! I can't handle anymore!
I suppose what I wanted I really wanted to say all week long but didn't voice is,
“I was really fucking scared.”
But now that I’ve confessed my ungraceful state, I feel a bit better. I did this not only because I know vulnerability is the birthplace of growth but because I believe in the power of, "Me too."
I mean, how many times have you danced at the precipice of unfathomable loss since you became a mom? Quite a few of you have had babies in the NICU. Maybe your kid has an allergy or other illness that keeps you on your toes more than you want to admit?
I note with compassion that being a mom requires grave risk; we must love our children wholeheartedly, knowing full well that if we lost them, our heart would break into a thousand pieces.
Motherhood inevitably holds a lot of moments where our "worst case scenario" lurks way too close. But if I can leave you with two things that never fail to hold my vulnerable heart together in the fear that threatens to break it, they are:
2. Other People Matter.
I'll explain specifically how these science-based theories work in further detail another time, but l'll allude to the strength they gave me by pointing to the picture of William being embraced by his nurse, Lisa below.
In my mind, this photo conveys a thousand words about the sort of stuff that carries me through the hard times and I think of,
We might be quick to assume these positive things don't fit into a fear-filled scenario, but I find the science-based concepts of positive psychology actually work well in the trenches of motherhood.
In the hard times, we might have to look a little harder to find our blessings but I promise there is always a reason to be grateful. Through a week of uncertainty where I reached for the gratitude I knew would temper my fears, a test just concluded that William likely has Mono. While we are still seeking another opinion on Monday, this diagnosis makes complete sense.
Yes, I just breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing he'll be fine, but through those moments I thought I could have lost him (and the week of uncertainty that followed), I found countless moments for joy.
That being said, I'm handing you a permission slip to take the breaks you need when you can, and find a way to do the things that make your soul sing. We never know what the next moment holds and if you are destined to face something hard, "what's good" can become the glue that holds your cracks together.