A little over a year and a half ago, my son broke his arm. I was thinking about this today because I said good-bye to him this morning as he left on a 3 day camping trip with his class. I have often been disillusioned into thinking that as long as my kids are near me, I can protect them from harm — my love can protect them. I realize this is flawed logic but sometimes flawed logic is the hardest to let go of. Back to my son’s broken arm…
I had just pulled out of my driveway to make the 90 second journey to pick him up — I had my youngest daughter with me, she was barefoot and her hair was a mess. But, we were only going 90 seconds down the road to pick my son up from his Tae Kwon Do class — who would see her? As soon as I pulled away from my home, my phone rang. His instructor was on the other end and asked where I was. Knowing I wasn’t late to pick him up and knowing I had never gotten a call from his instructor — I immediately asked what was wrong. He responded that he was pretty sure my son had just broken his arm and I should hurry. I didn’t panic. My son had broken bones before — a finger, a hand… his head. I assumed this would be just another trip to the ER for a simple cast. When I got to his lesson, I went inside and immediately saw a swarm of parents around my son — they had looks of anguish on their faces as they turned to look at me. His forearm, shaped awkwardly like a “v”, was laying in his lap and he was pale. My stomach turned at the sight — my thoughts raced, I allowed panic to sink in just a bit.
My motherhood instincts kicked in as I lifted him into the car — thankfully, otherwise the panic was close to surfacing as he gazed at me for reassurance that it wasn’t that bad. I remember my youngest daughter, shoeless with messy hair, in the back — quiet. I’m sure she could sense my panic. My thoughts went to what everyone would say at the hospital when they saw her shoeless, messy haired self (motherhood panic encompasses all). My oldest daughter was at home getting ready to attend a homecoming game with four of her friends, who were also at my home — waiting for me to return to drive them there.
Within about five minutes, I made a call to the pediatrician to say we were going to the ER, I made a call to another parent to pick the older girls up from my house and drive them to the game, I made a call to the children’s father to come get my shoeless, messy haired youngest, and was allowing, once again, my mind to race as I gazed with a half-smile at my son.
We were at the hospital for the next 30 hours — there was a surgery, there were pins… there was pain and tears and a lack of sleep that parents know too well — there was love.
Love finds us no matter where we are or what we’re doing. It hunts us down to remind us that we matter and the people we love matter. It keeps us warm and safe and whole.
Love was there in the hospital room with me all night as I watched my son sleep. Love was there as I thought about sending him into surgery. Love was there as I worried he would be scared and alone.
When he awoke the next morning, I explained that he would need a “little surgery” to fix his arm. I tried to focus on the cool cast he would surely get at the end of this journey. We sat on his bed for hours that morning waiting for his turn to be called in to surgery. He never seemed panicked or scared — not really. I told him he would sleep through the whole thing and I would be there to watch him. I think love surrounded he and I.
The wait for him to get out of surgery was long and tiresome and filled with anxiety. I wasn’t with him. What if something happened while I wasn’t with him? Would the protective shield of my love reach him from the waiting room? Of course, that was more of my flawed logic. My presence didn’t keep him from harm, my love couldn’t protect him — only nurture and care and encourage and warm him.
It occurred to me that I had been with him when he broke his finger and when he broke his hand and even when he broke his head (yes, a story for another time).
So this morning, he was thrilled, happy, excited. I was sending him out on his own to enjoy what life was offering him today, tomorrow… this week. My love will keep him warm, my love will fill his heart, my love will help him become whole — the rest is up to him.
Picture from Zebrasounds.net — Check it out, you’ll thank me later.