raising kids

On Strep, Surgery and Finding My Mommy Brave

“Hey, Mom, you have four eyes,” Adellyn said, as the nurse, now giggling, released the brakes on her hospital bed and rolled her toward the large double doors where we would part ways.

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It was barely 9am, and just a few short minutes remained before I was going to kiss her on the head as she was wheeled into the operating room. She was going in for routine surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids, a common procedure done thousands of times every year for kids her age. Nonetheless, a scary mommy moment for me.

Clearly her “kiddie cocktail” had kicked in, and she was as ready as she could be, thoroughly looking forward to the popsicles and ice cream that were promised for later. I didn’t have a “kiddie cocktail” to help with my preparation. Heck, I hadn’t yet had a cup of coffee.

In between the “we’ll see you in Recovery unless there are extenuating circumstances,” and the hustle and bustle of machines and monitors and debriefs and doctors, I found myself overwhelmed for the bazillionth time with love for my kiddo and a hesitant acceptance of my complete lack of control over the outcome.

“Is she allergic to any kind of medicine, including anesthesia?” they asked.

I don’t know. She’s never had anesthesia. What if she is? What happens then?

“Is she healthy?”

Yes. I mean, I think so. But what do you mean by healthy? Should we check or double-check something to make sure she’s okay? Leave it to a medical situation involving my kiddo to make Anxiety Girl show her true colors.

After four rounds of strep throat, 40 days of antibiotics and a seemingly unending cycle of illness, I was ready for whatever it took to end the strep throat saga. As the nurse wheeled the bed with a little tiny five year-old through the double doors, there went my heart, handed over and surrendered to completely capable, yet complete strangers. And as much as I knew the surgery was best, the little girl on the hospital bed is my most treasured possession, and I just needed a moment to find my brave.

I get it, kids are meant to grow up. But it means some really, really hard moments of letting go and stepping back and releasing and trusting and having faith in them and their Maker. They should teach these things in Mommy School. They should have Mommy Schools.

I kinda think it doesn’t matter if it’s tonsils or tendons, sending them to preschool or college or down the street for a sleepover for the very first time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scheduled procedure or emergency surgery, if your child is 5 or 45, if you’ve been through it before a million times or never before. It doesn’t matter if you’re American or Israeli, single-parent, working mom, middle-upper-or lower-class. It doesn’t matter the color your skin or hair, what kind of house you live in – or don’t. What car you drive – or don’t. Raising babies is hard work. And we just can’t do it alone.

There was the nurse who took a minute to chat with me while A was waking up. There was the doctor that stopped by just to reassure me that all was well. There were videos and visits, balloons and books. There were movies and messages. There were frozen treats for the little and coffee and chocolate and conversation for the mama. My mommy-heart was made brave not by anything I could do on my own, but by selfless people who showed up in love.

“Mom, you still have four eyes,” said my groggy little girl two hours later. “And can I have my popsicle now?”

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Kindergarten, Bus Ride and Momma Cried

I had her breakfast made before she was up. Scrambled eggs, toast and raspberries – nice and balanced with a little protein punch. She was going to be off to kindergarten in a few minutes and she needed to have energy, after all.

Teeth and hair brushed: check. Sophia shirt: Check. Headband: check. Sparkly shoes: check. Frozen lunch box and hot pink backpack: check. And we were out the door with 10 minutes to spare.

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As we walked, she chatted away, per her usual. Me, forcing her to pause for a few pictures. For her, getting to ride the school bus is one life’s greatest accomplishments and today was the day. She has been asking to ride the school bus and counting the years and months and days until it was her turn. I would have preferred to drive her myself on the first day, but she insisted. And so, off we went.

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After our casual stroll up to the bus stop at the corner, she looked up at me. “Mom, I have to go potty.”

Potty! Of course! In the midst of the breakfast and the outfit and the backpack and the new shoes, we both had completely forgotten about potty!!

I looked at my phone. We had 6 mix minutes. “We have to run,” I said. So off we went, her backpacking bouncing on her back and my keys swinging from my hands. “Good thing I have my fast running shoes on so I can lead you home, mom,” she said. Humility: something we are working on. Confidence: something she’s mastered.

We made it back home, to the potty and back to the bus stop with two minutes to spare. And then the next two minutes went by in a blur.

“There it is! There’s my bus,” she exclaimed, pointing at it driving around the bend.

As I looked down and her and smiled, my mind was on over-drive. Give your kid a kiss. Take a picture. Help her on. Don’t help her on. Hold her hand. Let her go. Tell her to have a good day and to remember where her snack is. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

I gave her a kiss, told her to have lots and lots of fun.

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“Okay, she said,” and walked bravely toward the bus. “There’s already kids on there. There’s already kids on there,” she said as she walked up the steps and chose her seat. The doors closed and the bus driver smiled at me. He looked a little like Santa.

I hope he drives safely today. I hope her teacher smiles today. I hope the kids are nice today. Because, while I want her to grow up and do all the things she’s been made to do, the spreading of her wings just makes my momma heart ache with love and pride and unspeakable joy. And some moments just tug at my tear faucets – like this one.

I turned and walked home, tears streaming down my cheeks and prayers going up to Heaven, as I sent my little girl off on the school bus and out into the world.

Today, 2:55 can’t come fast enough.