When I was first pregnant, I worried I wouldn’t be able to handle the icky factor of parenting. The diapers. The snot. The vomit. The blood.
I found I was quickly desensitized. The serious injuries tend to keep me focused – assess the damage, stop the bleeding, make the trip to the children’s ER for stitches. I am always surprised at how calm I am in those situations. The moments after, not so much, but when action needs to be taken, I have been able to take it.
Even the gross stuff is dealt with quickly. After a recent temper tantrum gone too long resulted in me wearing my two-year old’s just consumed dinner, the hubby and I had the clothes in the wash, sheets changed, kid in the tub, clean jammies on, Resolve on the carpet, extra squirt of Purell on the hands and Lysol sprayed on all surfaces all within a matter of 15 minutes so I could get back to calming the little guy with a story.
I have faith that a mother is as strong as she needs to be. My sister recently had to spend a scary trip to the emergency room and night in the hospital with her 10 month old with RSV. Although I know she was scared and terrified of the what ifs, she was strong for her little one. She fought alongside her and cared for her until that baby was quickly cruising between the sofa and the coffee table again, that long night now just another battle scar of motherhood.
And then I marvel at another mother I know. A mom who found out her two year old son had brain cancer and comforted him through surgery and chemo and an uncertain future all while being pregnant with her daughter. I rejoiced when he was declared cancer free. I high-fived him at our college’s homecoming and smiled as our two boys struck up the instant friendship that five year olds do. I crossed my fingers each time she’d bring him back for a follow-up MRI, exhaling at each clear result. And then, this time. It wasn’t clear.
Today, she is living through the nightmare again. A surgeon has gone into her son’s brain for a second time to remove another mass, similar to the first. I can’t imagine what must be running through her head about next steps, treatments, logistics of care, missing school, explaining things to a child who now understands so much more at 5 and a half. And yet I can imagine what is going through her mind. According to her updates today, she’s holding his hand. She’s made sure he’s in his Star Wars pajamas. She’s stroking, hugging and praying. She’s doing what a mother does.
She’s being strong.
And in those moments when she is given an opportunity to rest and be weak and cry and rage and worry, I hope she feels the strength of all the rest of us mother’s here to help carry her load. Because the sum of all the super heroes and weightlifters and soldiers in the world can’t hold a candle to the strength of a mother.