I would like to tell you that there comes a point in parenting where you become impervious to the rough and tumble nature of kids. Surely, there comes a point where you’re no longer afraid that you “broke the baby” or whatever, right? RIGHT?
Sadly, I have yet to experience this magical time when I can stop worrying about one of the children falling over dead. And while I’m perfectly willing to believe that I am slightly more neurotic than the average person (shut up), I really think this is one of those “features” of motherhood that people just don’t talk about very much. Sure, we all swap stories about the various infant crises. (“And then! That one time! The baby wouldn’t stop crying! So off to the ER we went!”)
Maybe after they leave for college, I will no longer freak out about every little thing…?
I’ve written about this before; a veritable catalog of ridiculous injuries, really, considering that my children are—on the whole—hale and hearty. Even Chickadee, melodramatic that she is, no longer so much as blinks on the rare occasion that someone comments on her scar. (“We were in a car accident and I busted my head open. Now I look like Harry Potter!”)
This is not to say that we don’t have the occasional overreaction to a minor injury, the likes of which causes me to preface my loving maternal tending with, “The way you’re screaming right now, you had best be ON FIRE or BLEEDING HEAVILY.” But for the most part, I am no longer the same frightened new mother who was constantly afraid that one of the children would simply combust while I tried to figure out what to do to save them. I am cool and collected. I do not flinch or overworry.
This morning I was packing lunches and Monkey went outside to fetch the paper. And then it happened.
If you have kids, you know The Wail. It is not the sound of displeasure or “pay attention to me” or “I am aggrieved.” Those wails are hard on the ears but don’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Those wails don’t send your adrenaline pumping and blind you to everything else.
The Wail pierces straight through your heart and your brain and you drop everything and run outside in the cold, barefoot and braless (still in your cartoon dog pajamas, even), and your breath catches in your throat because there’s your baby, face-down on the concrete, making that SOUND, that SIREN, and in the two seconds it takes to reach him you’ve already cataloged everything awful that may have happened.
[There’s a broken bone. Or more than one. His braces went clear through his lips. He knocked out teeth. He cracked his head open. His nose is broken. He fell down because something ELSE went wrong, something BAD.]
Three seconds later you’ve managed to assess that a trip and a flying, full-body-slam landing is indeed shocking and painful, but mercifully, the damage isn’t too bad.
I set Monkey up on the kitchen counter and went and gathered my supplies and then did a more extensive survey and patching up mission. He’d managed to skin his chin, the palms of both hands, and both knees. But nothing was broken. Nothing was gushing. (Oozing, maybe. You’re welcome.)
The pounding of my heart slowed down a bit as he regained himself and began to rant. First he wanted to stay home from school, owing to his heroic injuries. Then he assured me he’d never walk again. And as I squelched a giggle, I relaxed, because he was fine. We were fine.
Except for the part where I age another few years every time something like this happens….