Oh, hey. Sorry to leave you hanging for a week. I didn’t mean to, it just sort of… happened. It turns out that when my kid is in the hospital my level of functioning reverts to “barely alive” and I am a total delight to be around. Like, Otto will come home from work and say, “How was your day?” and I’ll blink at him and say, “I’m not sure.” Then he’ll say, “What’s for dinner?” and I’ll say, “Dinner?”
Actual conversation we had this week:
Me: Why did you marry me? Our life is a mess. I’m a mess.
Otto: Well you weren’t ALWAYS a mess. I assume eventually you’ll not be a mess again.
Otto: Oh. Um. That’s not helping, is it?
Me: Not really.
Otto: Sorry. I mean, I LOVE YOU, that’s why!
Me: Uh huh.
Otto: Also, you’re pretty. So pretty!
Me: Shut up.
Otto is a lucky man.
Anyway, Chickadee is home from the hospital once again, and this time we’re not screwing around, man. I rifled through the sheaf of prescriptions the nurse handed me during the three-hour discharge process (Hell, thy name is hospital discharge) and pointed out that this was her second hospitalization in a month, and were they REALLY, REALLY sure she was okay to go home? REALLY?
Chickadee looked at me as if she would’ve cheerfully bashed my head in with the nearest IV pole, but the nurse was kind and clearly an old hand and she got what I was saying: The back and forth, you know, it’s hard. I’m not sure she was ready to leave, the first time, and then we had a hard few weeks and it looked like she was okay and then BAM, back to the hospital she went. So we talked about what to be on the lookout for and follow-up appointments and the general healingness (totally a word) of sleeping in your own bed and being with your family and all of that.
My darling daughter had just begun to unclench when I remarked, “Yeah, well, I get all of that. I do. But if she has to come back again, I think three strikes and she’s out. If we get to hospitalization number three I’m just going to have to leave her here.” I winked at the nurse. “That cool?”
“Of course!” she said, as Chickie sighed loudly and dropped her face into her hands. “She doesn’t eat much, so it’s no trouble having her around.” We chuckled as Chickie muttered something about hating us both.
Later, Chickadee told me that sometimes she doesn’t like it when I make everything into a joke. I apologized. I tried to explain, in my awkward and fumbling way, that sometimes (most of the time) I joke to offset the panic and sadness I feel, and I’m not trying to upset her, I’m just trying to stay calm.
She wanted to listen to the pop station in the car, and I said yes, and she wanted a veggie sandwich from Subway (“Hospital food is the WORST, Mom”), so I drove to the nearest one and got it for her. She sat next to me, swaying to the music, munching on her sub, totally happy (at least for that moment), and the tears leaked out of my eyes as I drove and tried to pretend I wasn’t crying. She didn’t notice, so that was good.
We stopped at the pharmacy and picked up her meds, then—finally—we were home. I’d be hard pressed to tell you who was more excited, Licorice or Monkey. Chickie immediately hopped on the computer to let her friends know she was back, and all was normal.
I mean, as normal as it’s gonna be for a while, I guess.
She wanted to stay home from school today. Heck, she doesn’t want to go back to school, ever. We talked a little, last night, about how she used to love school and no longer does. How every time she’s out it means more looks and whispers when she goes back, and she’s just tired of it, wants everyone to get out of her business, stop asking, stop staring. She wants to homeschool. But she also wants everything the way it was. So we talked about what it means, at this point, to make a change. How if she elects to finish out the year at home, starting high school in August will be even harder. How it’s going to be hard no matter what, because she feels different, because it’s harder now just to get through the day, because something like this has a way of making you look at people differently, especially when they’re looking at YOU differently.
I told her, briefly, that I think it’s important to push through the discomfort before making a choice. That her true friends have and will continue to rise to the challenge. That I think she’ll regret retreating before she’s really found her balance again. I said all that even though a part of me is screaming out that YES YES YES please decide to stay home with me where I can keep you safe and watch you every minute of every day. Except that of course I can’t, and that’s no way to live, anyway.
She was up and ready for school early, today. She looked nervous but said she was okay. I made her breakfast, packed her lunch, tried not to hug her too tightly.
And then I let her go. Again.