Every Kid Should Be So Lucky…
…as to have parents like mine.
My memory flies back to when I was barely more than a toddler. I see myself sitting up in bed with my parents standing over me. “My legs hurt so bad,” I told them, tears hanging on every word.
Mom sits beside me and explains how my bones are growing so fast that the rest of my body can’t keep up. She tells me about when she was a little girl and had growing pains too. Dad disappears and then returns with a pile of books for me to look at. Comforted, I’m asleep in minutes.
Years fly by and mom sits beside me. I nervously pick at my hospital gown while the doctor inserts an IV and begins to feed the anesthetic into my veins. When I wake up, she’s still there and takes me home – home to mom and dad’s house. I haven’t lived there in years, but it will always be home because that’s where my parents are.
Three days go by in varying stages of discomfort. They cater to me because my sinuses are packed with stints, tubes and gauze. As bedtime approaches on the third day, nausea sweeps over me. I close my eyes and concentrate on not throwing up. I can take none of the normal preventative measures (breathe through your nose and put your head down) because my nose is swollen and literally stuffed full of synthetic materials. I gulp air like a fish through my mouth and pray it won’t happen, but it does. I feel like I’m suffocating and panic sweeps over me.
Afterwards I stand in the bathroom doorway with tears in my eyes. They look at me sympathetically and cover me with blankets when I lie down on the couch. “I’ll sit up with her,” dad tells mom. “She shouldn’t be left alone.”
Lying so still, praying I won’t be sick again, I look at my dad in a recliner across the room. The hours tick by as slowly the churning subsides. You’re a very lucky girl, I tell myself. Memorize this moment! I close my eyes and try to block out the swimming stomach and concentrate on the image of my dad. 74 years old, and he sits up with me on the eve of my 42nd birthday because I am and always will be his little girl.
On Father’s Day the church bulletin will likely feature a picture of a man in a row boat with a young boy. They have caught a huge fish and with wild smiles are reeling it into the boat. On Mother’s Day a woman in a beautiful gown pushes her daughter on a wooden swing in the middle of a garden of lovely flowers.
These are the romance novels of parenting – not that these experiences don’t exist, but they are the one in a thousand moments mixed in with the mundane, the exhausting, and the weary times of parenting. Show me a dad in the middle of the night holding his daughter’s hair back while she throws up; show me a mom with an umbrella and gloves on the edge of a soccer field in a soaking rain; show me a parent, tired from a long day of work, pouring over homework with their children, and I’ll know you’ve found a real parent. I suppose it isn’t very glamorous, but good parents, those really extraordinary ones aren’t so full of glitz and glam. Instead they have grit and determination; and maybe they don’t always say what you want to hear; but they try; and you never doubt their love for you because they sit with you when you are at your lowest.
Every kid should be so lucky as to have parents like mine.