No parent is prepared to see his or her child like this:
Our daughter, Ava, is fine.
And I’m still terrified.
We recently went on a family bike ride at the Morton Arboretum in suburban Chicago.
Lovely grounds, perfect weather – we enjoyed the sumptuous views, laughing and complaining about pedaling up the many hills (unlike our usual route of flat, paved city streets).
Ava is a solid bike rider, but has no experience navigating hills. Specifically downhill.
As she picked up speed down a steep hill, I heard her yell, “This is sooo much fun!” Next thing we knew she was sprawled on the ground, covered in blood, screaming in pain and shock. She had skidded and spun on the pavement and took the brunt of the fall on her knees, chin and elbows, in that order.
My heart pounded as I ran to her yelling “no, no, no” silently to myself. Screaming rang in my ears, hers aloud, mine inside my head.
Terrified and shaken, Ava was inconsolable.
Thankfully, a passing car offered to drive us to the park entrance. From there, the Arboretum’s security guards took excellent care of Ava while we waited for an ambulance.
After some time in a local Emergency Room, Ava walked away with several deep scrapes and vicious bruises, all of which are healing beautifully.
I walked away with a wake-up call. Being a parent is terrifying. (You guessed it, I will make our child’s accident all about me. It’s one of my most adorable traits. You’ll have to trust me on this.)
Standing by and watching my child get hurt, knowing there’s nothing I can do to prevent her pain, is excruciating. When did I sign up for this?
And why didn’t anyone warn me?
Amid all the baby gifts, prenatal classes and casseroles, I didn’t take time to think about my fitness for this side of parenting.
My kids are going to get hurt. I am not in control. I can bubble wrap them (anyone know a good supplier?) and still not protect them from the world’s whims, accidents and injuries.
I want to be in control. And I’m not. Gulp.
We’ve been fortunate to avoid any major injuries or accidents (knock on wood) during our nine years of child rearing. Now one accident in and I’m ready to pack it up!
Before I became a parent, I anticipated the difficulty of watching my child in emotional pain, believing emotional pain (disappointment, frustration, hurt feelings, etc.) would be the hardest to handle. Yet while I hate when my children are disappointed or sad, seeing my oldest in physical pain hit me to my core.
I don’t love easily or necessarily well. Like many, I protected my heart from hurt, rejection and pain and hid behind a wall of ambivalence for much of my life. Now that my heart is open and full and walking around outside of my body in the form of our two daughters, I feel much too vulnerable. I want to be the only one to extract pain from them! Only me. The rest of life needs to stay away! Is that wrong?
Fine. I’ll focus on the positive for a moment, damn it. Ava is safe. She’s healthy, happy, confident, blah, blah. All is well.
I’m the one who needs
valium support and faith to let go and trust the universe with my children.
So, here’s my prayer.
I get it! I get the lesson. I’m not in charge. You are. Amen.
So … now that I’ve taken that to heart, there’s no need for me to learn this lesson again. Right? There’s no reason my girls can’t be safe. Are we on the same page here, God? Good.
I’m too old for this kind of excitement.
I get it – kids fall. Falls teach them resilience and confidence. Accidents teach them faith and discernment. Injuries teach them about limits and life.
Got it! Thanks. We’re done here. You can move on to others who needs to learn this lesson. God speed to them.
As for us, if Ava can muster the strength and confidence to get back on her bike …
I can muster the faith to let her go.
Tomorrow. Or maybe next week.