After spending a cumulative 12 hours in two days at our hospital, I am wiped out.
My head feels like a ton of bricks and my body feels like it has been encased in lead. I half-heartedly explained to my husband that I am now another ten-years older in spirit. The gray hairs have to be popping out everywhere.
After taking my own personal inventory of emotional baggage, I reflected on what the past two days have done to my children.
Because you see, I am not even a patient. I am merely just a bystander.
What has this surreal life surrounded by doctors and living in a hospital done to them?
To an untrained eye, the girls seem mostly like any other typical 8 and 10- year old. A few days post surgery and our oldest daughter is already asking about starting swimming and our youngest is playing fashion designer and doodling on every scrap paper in the house. They are happy kids and are always up for an adventure. We are in stage 1 of tumbling a few unpolished rocks and are busy on training our very large kitty on how to perform a trick. Life IS really good.
Why is it that I am nervous?
Partly because underneath that happy smile is wisdom well beyond their years. They have witnessed life at its best and its worst. They understand that sometimes their most trusted grown-ups can't fix everything and that life is ever changing. Much like the magician that pulls a rabbit out of a hat, life can pull the rug right out from underneath you. With unsteady gait or sometimes even a fall, you have to work very hard at getting back up and learning to stand on your own two feet.
Now this is where I look at them even more carefully... has any of the past two days events caused them to falter and fall? Do they need a hand in standing back up or are they OK to learn to get back up all on their own?
And this is the hardest part of parenting. Not knowing when to swoop in and help and when to watch them do it by themselves. Even at their young ages, sometimes I have to hold myself back and do nothing more than watch and wait.
Which is what I am doing right now.
The second surgery is over. The A1c is over. Christmas is over. That leaves us with only the eve of a new year and a possible new beginning. I can take that chapter from the past few days and close it (or do what I really want and slam it shut).
I know that I can't take away from what my children have had to endure. This is part of their history and childhood. While none of this is what I had in my hopes and dreams for them, it is our reality and we can't pretend it didn't happen. Teaching my children to embrace ALL that life brings them and to be strong enough to deal with it will always be my goal... diabetes and surgeries aside... this would have been part of my parenting map under any circumstance.
Understanding this moment, I allow them to take their own chapters and do what they want... close them, slam them, re-write them. Whatever their needs may be, they are the owners of their own life story.
Watching them, I witness this... our oldest daughter recalls her moments before the surgery and after with a few tears sprinkled in. She asks when things happened and our youngest daughter fills her in as best as she can, admitting that she had to leave the room when the IV line was inserted and during the rough recovery that brought all of the doctors back to her bed. To that, my oldest daughter hugs her and offers support by explaining that she felt the same sadness at seeing our youngest daughter in the hospital years ago after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. They talk about how hard it is to see each feeling hurt and how they wished none of that had happened.
Wisely, I simply listen. They are expressing their grief and validating each other's experiences. This is not the moment that they need me to give them answers. This is the moment that they need comfort and love and they need it from each other. As a mother to them both, I am there for them both for endless love too. But it would be wrong for me to break this precious moment. This is what bonds them close.
This circle of events has brought them even closer. The relationship between the two girls goes beyond sisters and even deeper, as closest confidantes. They are connected deeply through some of the most difficult moments a child has to endure. As I watch them, they hug each other and youngest daughter plants a gentle kiss on oldest daughter's bandaged arm.
Seeing and hearing this, I have a feeling that this new beginning is going to be even more amazing than any of us could imagine.
We are afterall, closer, wiser, stronger and grayer.... who can beat that? And because I can't resist a moment more... I do swoop in and cover them both with hugs and kisses. To which they laugh and giggle and tell me what they really want to do is play another game of Barbies.
I think we are going to be alright.