Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Scary Side of Parenting

There are many different sides to parenting. Parenting is one of those complex shapes that has an infinite amount of sides, angles, degrees, and all that other stuff that made me hate geometry. It is the ultimate ride at a theme park; full of thrills, screams, hands in the air, hair-raising ups and downs. I suppose this is what people are thinking when they ask me if I am crazy because I have embarked on this journey seven times. Yet, parenting has so many perks. The problem is, no one ever tells you how frightening parenting can be. Words cannot prepare you for how you will feel the first time you see your toddling baby fall for the first time. People forget to warn you that when something happens to your child, no matter how old they are, your breath catches, your heart plummets to your stomach, your body temperature rises, and you utter that nearly soundless, "Oh!"
From the moment you discover you are expecting a baby, the worry begins. "Will the baby be healthy?", "Will there be any problems?", "What if....?" Trust me when I say I am the queen of worry and my imaginative mind plays very cruel tricks on me. When something minor happens, I manage to think of the worst case scenario times twenty. When the adrenaline kicks in and my heart is racing, I seem to forget that everything is okay, and I really need to let go of the "Yeah, but what if" or "It could have been so bad" images that play in my head.
With seven kids, you would think I would have been through it all. Well, if I am completely honest, I have been through a lot. Thank the Lord I have my husband to reign me in when my mind gets the better of me. I am not 100% certain, but I think this is something that women go through more than men. Moms just seem to know the consequences and outcomes of too many situations. We have that instinctual "worry" mechanism that develops during the nine months of pregnancy.
Is it the bond that develops during those nine months that triggers the worry? I am sure that many dads out there that worry or freak out just as much as moms do, and I do feel that some moms and dads take it to the extreme. Let's face it, we can't put our kids in bubbles, as much as we would like to. I have to admit that the more children I have had, the less extreme my freaking out is. Most of the time we say, "Get up, brush yourself off, and you will be okay." You can tell by the way your child cries whether the situation is serious or not. Does is require a trip to the hospital or are they being overly dramatic and just need to hear, "Are you bleeding? Are any bones hanging out? Do you have a gaping wound?" About 95% of the time their response is "No." Well then, no need to panic. Wash it off with a little soap and water and slap a band aid on it.
But when the cry is real, and the pain is real, how do you keep your heart in your chest? When you learn that your 6 week old infant has to have eye surgery and needs to be put under anesthesia during the procedure, how do you not crumble to the floor, weeping, and wondering, "What do I do?" When your 6 month old baby is wheezing and having trouble breathing at two in the morning because he has croup, how do you remain calm and strong?
We have been through surgeries, stitches, broken bones, dislocated joints, H1N1, fevers of 104 degrees, and my personal favorite, the call to poison control (which I have done enough for them to know me by first name). The list goes on and on. Recently, our oldest son was clipped by a car as he was walking to school. That was a first and I pray to God the last. He didn't even get knocked down, and really, all that he has to show for it is a bruise. Yet the call that I received at work to tell me what had happened caused me to crumble immediately. That feeling of helplessness and the sense that I was so far away from the situation caused my normally strong composure to disintegrate. I balled like a baby and honestly, I still find myself thinking, "What if it was worse?" These are the situations that make you hug your kids until they cry out that they can't breathe.
This is why I love my husband dearly. He is so much stronger than I am. He is my pillar and God is my rock. When these things happen my husband will hug me and remind me that God only gives us what we can handle. He tells me that we need to remember that although it could have been worse, it wasn't, and we need to thank the good Lord for that. He also reminds me that we have been so blessed and that we have it so easy compared to some. My heart goes out to those that suffer daily. I pray for all of you and your children that you may feel God's healing touch.
As parents we need to remember that God is there for us and that He wants us to lean on Him for the answers and for support. He is there to relieve that sense of helplessness. Things do happen for a reason, and often these things make us stronger. Yes, parenting can be scary and nerve-wracking, but the joys trump the upsetting moments. Parenting is a roller coaster full of cork-screws, tunnels, sharp turns, and tickle-your-tummy drops. Just remember that if it was impossible or too scary, then no one would do it, and then where would we be?