Sometimes parenting sucks. Not the waking up in the middle of the night, or the food that gets hurled onto your new white shirt. Who really cares about a scuff on those $50 Striderite shoes or the fact that someone cut their own hair with the kid-friendly scissors?
The most awful of times is when we can’t fix it.
It is that thing that you knew was there, or the times you knew would come. Those moments of 2am sickness, fevers that won’t break, flushed cheeks, or in our case, brief spells of total blackouts. Those moments in life where the cliché, why can’t it be me, becomes alarmingly appropriate. I wish I could sacrifice myself. The bedtime routine of her body all arched up in bed and snoring- her throat drying out as she gently falls asleep… and when I want to cry… a big, ugly cry. But she just wraps a sweaty little arm around me in her stupor, I breathe her in, and I can’t help but fall madly in love with that little being. I wish I could fix it.
Our perfect beings somehow become injured, no less perfect, but more vulnerable… making us, as their guardians, more exposed than we knew we could be. Our little hearts walking outside our bodies left helpless for moments we can’t even track, with ailments we cannot heal. We wait for the phone call from some staff member that says, No worries, Mrs. Martinka, she’s just being a toddler. Instead my phone rings and the sweet voice of a doctor comes on.
It’s all I can think, and as they tell me exactly what I knew and never wanted to hear, I’m dying inside. A piece of my heart is marching around the room in her colorful cloth diaper laughing, and the part of my heart that is stuck in me is screaming- simultaneously stopping and racing at the same time.
You know what I am saying to myself as I choke back tears and gather the important information is every curse ever spoken. I’m getting names and numbers, and big words I’ll later look up on Google. The heat in my face is rising and I can feel my unborn kicking me from the inside. Just stay in there, Millie. I can’t keep you safe out here. A piece of my heart is breaking, and yet the silliest part of me is right there, running around, happy and perfect as the day she was born.
The moments of gasping. Blackouts. They have a reason. A cause. And I didn’t want to hear what I already knew.
And I hate it.
It’s another unknown. It’s reliving her diagnosis all over again without the acceptance that it will all be ok… not knowing what is ahead for us and longing for the ignorance that’s kept me company for the past 26 months.
As I hang up the phone, and make another appointment, send another update in an email, request another referral and get another approval code, the routine is different. This isn’t preventative, this is proactive. This is taking the next step. This is fear and hurt and wonder. And I crash my face into the pillow and scream, hot tears saturating the fabric beneath my eyes. Does it mean surgery? It means the possibility…
Because this is what parenting is, some days. And some days I don’t know if I can do it. But it’s possible that I can.
This warrior keeps me strong. She keeps me brave. She’s taught me more about living than I’ve taught her at all… and she’s only 2. This kid knows that happiness doesn’t come from money or things, it’s not all about the places we go and the people we meet. There are days that happiness is a good bite of avocado, kisses from the puppy, splashing in the bathtub, or seeing mama after a procedure. Happiness is what we make it, and this life we get- we sure as hell better live.
So here’s to us. Mamas, papas, guardians. Warriors.