Sometimes I feel utterly unprepared to be a mother. Like when Benjamin gets hurt. I console him while he cries and I wrack my brain to think about how I’m supposed to fix whatever it is that is swollen, bleeding, etc.
Two nights ago, Benjamin was playing in the pantry while I was (gasp!) cooking dinner. It was a pretty special event since I don’t cook much, so he was excited to have free reign of all the boxes and cans while I stirred dinner. A can of spaghetti-os (with meatballs) hit him on the face. Tears. Blood. Eek.
As I picked him up and dried his tears, I try to figure out the source of the bleeding. Just above his mouth? Inside his mouth? Teeth all present and accounted for? Are any teeth loose? What do I do if the teeth are loose? Don’t I soak them in milk? Will the strawberry milk in the fridge work, or will the sugar negate the milk-soaking benefits? Should I be icing something? Not like frosting, but like using ice to chill the area. Is there any swelling? Do we have any band-aids? These are the thoughts that go through my head.
As it turns out, I wipe the cut above his lip. The bleeding stops. No ice or band-aid required. The unexplained blood from his mouth didn’t prevent him from enjoying a sympathy cup of juice. And for added measure, 2 episodes of the Wiggles seemed to make everything better. Did I just administer health care, or just a favorite TV show and some juice?
What does a “good” mom do? Does she know what type of first aid to administer and when? Was there a checklist or something that I was supposed to do? Since Alex died, I feel a greater responsibility to keep Benjamin safe, and I feel inadequately prepared for the task. I know there will be injuries that apple juice and TV can’t fix… how do I know that I’m up for the challenge?
People ask how I’m doing with things, and I still struggle to find an answer. I’m not back to ‘normal.’ I don’t know that there will be a time when I will feel as good as I did before Alex died. I’m not drowning in tears either. I shuffle between sad and forlorn more than I’d like to, but it’s not a hopeless, desperate situation. I get through life and feel generally optimistic about the future.
That’s the best any of us can hope for, right? A general contentedness with our lives, and the quiet hope that life is more smiles than tears. A silent belief that God has good planned for us in the future… and riches beyond our wildest imaginations. I don’t hope to win the lottery, or to retire from work at the age of 40. I hope for a happy, healthy family that includes fighting in the backseat, and arguments about who gets the last popsicle.
I long for debates about who got the better Christmas presents and arguments about who gets to choose the breakfast cereal for the week. Not that Benjamin isn’t enough. He’s a gift that I will always be grateful for. But he’s only a piece of the vision I have for our family. I crave a house full of love and memories, comprised of children running and playing. The sound of one child laughing is small compared to the vision in my heart. I see us raising more than one child and I yearn for the chaos that can only come from chasing after multiple children.
I know it’s not my choice. I know I don’t get make the final decision about how big our family is. In the meantime, I keep track of potential baby names as I hear them, and I don’t stop myself from buying baby clothes for ‘just in case.’ The love that Alex has filled in my heart gives me the strength and fortitude to ask for more blessings. Until then, I wait.