Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Sting of Parenthood

Last week, as the dismissal bell rang, I shaded my eyes and looked for my daughter, S, coming out of the gate.  Suddenly, my toddler, M, started crying and grabbed at his eye.  

It was windy so, at first, I thought something had gotten in his eye.

But no!

A bee had stung him.  A parent sitting next to me saw the bee on my shirt and I quickly flicked it off.

Then, I saw the stinger.  It was about a centimeter from M’s eye and I quickly plucked it from his face (You’re supposed to scrape it off but, at the time, I wasn’t thinking).  

Naturally, I worried.  This was the first time he had been stung and I had no idea if his face was going to swell up, or even worse, if he would have a serious allergic reaction.

And, where was my daughter?   

In case he did have a reaction, I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.  I got some ice from the nurse, grabbed my daughter’s hand, and hurried off campus.

As we approached the car, my worries subsided a little.  M’s face was red and slightly swollen, but mostly from crying.   Fortunately, he didn’t end up having have a serious reaction. Still….

How did I not notice a bee on my son’s face?

He was sitting right on my lap and I was unable to protect him.  

And, that’s what really stings…..that I didn’t stop it from happening.

There have been times as a parent when I have felt powerless because something bad was happening to my children and I felt like I couldn’t fix it.  

For instance,  there was the time when my daughter’s heart beat started slowing during delivery, because  the cord was wrapped around her neck.  I felt powerless as the doctors discussed emergency c-sections and assisted deliveries.  As I listened to the thump thump sound on the monitor become slower and fainter,  I wondered if she was going to make it.  At that moment, I felt terrified.  When I heard my daughter’s first cries, that terror quickly turned to joy, but the memory is still fresh.

There are many moments in life when we will be unable to protect our children, even if we take preventative measures. 

It might be when your toddler takes a nasty tumble on the playground and even though you were right there, you couldn’t stop it.

Or when your child is upended during a soccer game while you are standing on the sidelines.  

Or when someone says something mean and hurtful to your child at school, at the park, or anywhere. 

Then, there’s the sting of rejection, of failure, of loss. 

These experiences are painful.  They make our hearts hurt and our minds swell with ‘if I had only’ thoughts.

If I had only put a guard on that corner, the baby wouldn’t have hit his or her head.

If I had only helped ____study more, he/she would have gotten a better grade.

But the truth is there are only so many preventative measures we can take because sooner or later, our children will get hurt, physically or emotionally and it will sting and the venom may fester under the surface.  

Although I was pretty sure M was okay, I took him to the pediatrician.  Interestingly, the doctor told me that even though M didn’t have a bad reaction, he could with a second sting.  After all, allergic reactions can intensify with each sting.   

I’ll do my best to prevent my kids from provoking or stepping on bees.  However, I can’t promise M won’t ever get stung again because pain is part of life.  Unfortunately, often times, it is people, not bees, that inflict the most pain…..the type of pain that leave scars both inside and out.   

I’m already on the lookout for these types of people, the ones who sting on purpose.  Yet, they seem to be everywhere.  

Yet, the good news is we can lessen the pain.   Love, faith, laughter, and conversation are all powerful remedies.  

For me, knowing that God is there cradling my babies, through it all, is a relief.  And, I remember,  Psalm 147:3: He heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds.

And, suddenly, I no longer feel powerless. 

Have there been moments in your life where you felt powerless?

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Our Growing Roots

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