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The Best of Life

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Last night was arguably the roughest we’ve had as parents. We’re all safe and sound, now, all home, catching up on some much-needed zzz’s on this rainy Monday.

But last night, at almost 16 months to the minute that Edmond was born, Jonathan and I found ourselves retracing our route to the Vanderbilt Children’s E.R. Edmond has been sick for two weeks now, with a stomach bug, sinus virus, and ear infection, and last night after having seemed almost his usual chipper self for two days, his fever spiked up to a whopping 104.7, his breathing started sounding strange and labored, and so at around 1 in the morning we packed him into the car and made our way to the hospital. And then after several hours and nurses and doctors, we were relieved to be told this is just another virus, that it’s likely not pneumonia or meningitis or a bladder infection or any other number of worse alternatives.

So we are blessed. Lucky. I think of all the other parents we saw last night, cradling their sick children, carrying even their six or seven year olds awkwardly in their arms because it was 3 in the morning and they were in a hospital and what parent wouldn’t do anything in that moment for their child? We are the lucky ones, whose child got to go home, but, obviously, parenting still isn’t easy.

With 16 months of parenting under my belt, I’ve come to accept that parenting requires a summoning of all of your love and calm and patience and will power each and every minute. It is viewing each moment as all important, and becoming in even the most trying times the best version of yourself, your best you.

Last night, Edmond (who is apparently on to this whole, doctor’s visits might equal shots thing) cried when the nurse touched his foot, his stomach, his back. He cried at the doctor’s stethoscope, flashlight, tongue compressor. With next to no provocation, he would cling to me, sobbing “Mama, Mama, Mama,” over and over again. Because he was sick. And it was 2 in the morning. And he’s still a baby.

And so Jonathan and I remained calm, smiling, patient, as we carried our toddler through the hallway, screaming, or as he sat in our laps in the waiting room, screaming, or as we tried to respond to the doctor over, you guessed it, Edmond’s screams.

We were up all night. Jonathan stayed up even later finishing lesson plans so he could stay home with us today. As ever, I can’t believe I am so lucky to get to go through life with him. I can’t imagine laughing at the utter absurd hilarity of parenting with anyone else. Or sharing all of the joys with anyone else.

So we rise this morning, bleary eyed and exhausted and punchy from sleeplessness. But empowered too, as a family, to have faced a challenge not perfectly but with love.

Because this is the best of life: to give our love freely, to work as hard as we can to be good and to do good for our family and others, to give of ourselves again and again, taking in return the hope that we are doing what is best, that we are raising a good human who will learn to love well in his turn. Parenting is making me better than I am. It is transformative. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

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