Two days ago my daughter fell off the couch and hit her head pretty hard on the floor. She was playing, or rather, in her words, “running” on the couch and on about the 12,319th warning from me not to do it, she was girl overboard. My first instinct was “Ok, maybe she had to learn the hard way not to do that again.” My second instinct was to comfort her hysterical crying, alleviate her fear from the fall, and help heal her boo-boo by placing an ice pack on her head. Within minutes, the tears had faded and she seemed to have learned her lesson, even promising me that “Mommy, I will not run on the couch anymore.” I closely monitored her to see if her behavior or mood changed in any way. She seemed fine, but a few hours later, she began complaining to me of a headache. Now, my kid may complain about things like having to brush her teeth or not being allowed to eat Halloween candy for breakfast, but she never complains about pain after a bad fall, so I knew something was wrong. And then of course, came my feelings of fear, paranoia, and uncertainty. Those same fears that I had when I became a mother for the first time. The thoughts of “Holy shit is my kid broken?” came flooding back to me. I immediately contacted my two wise doctor friends whom I refer to as my “Fairy godmothers.” Since it was close to bedtime, they told me what remedies to give her for pain and one of them offered to see her the next day. I was so worried about my kid that I had her sleep with us that night just to make sure she was still breathing, but I did not get a wink of sleep at all.
Also, that same night I was hanging holiday lights in my house when I missed a step and fell face down and on my seven month pregnant belly. I did not land that hard but again I thought “Crap, is my other kid hurt?” I was worried, for it seemed like hours before I felt my baby wiggling around again and I knew everything was ok. All I kept thinking to myself was, “Geesh, I better toughen up if I am going to survive this motherhood gig!” For the most part, I think I have gotten a lot tougher since pregnancy and childbirth the first time around. What is hardest for me to deal with are things that are out of my control and fear of the unknown. But yup, that is pretty much what motherhood is all about.
We bloggers talk a lot about vulnerability on this website as we share a great deal about our personal life experiences, emotions, and struggles. But, in my opinion, there is no greater vulnerability than when our children get hurt and there is nothing we can do about it except help them stay calm – even if we are freaked out – and have faith we’ll all get through it. Moms cannot put their kids in a bubble and protect them from all dangers and injuries. A mother has to be courageous before her kids in these times to teach them resiliency. We have to channel our utmost strength and nurture them through it. We moms have to build a fortitude and resiliency so strong, that we do not exacerbate our children’s pains or fears. But that is pretty damn hard to do all the time.
It is not just the physical injuries we moms have to endure with endless patience, despite our innermost fears. We have to help them heal when their hearts hurt over disappointments and failures. For me, much of my strength comes from trusting my gut and motherly instinct and doing what I feel is best for my family, despite what others may say or do differently. The rest of my fortitude is being built over time, with each and every challenge that comes my way and every time I look fear in the face and tell it get out of my way. I may not know what future challenges and injuries I cannot protect my children from, but this I do know for sure: Motherhood is not for sissies.