What makes you afraid?
The shadows in a forest where light doesn’t touch, under the bed, rooms in darkness. All of these things would terrify me as a child. I still am not a fan of black space.
I had my own child and that triggered a whole new depth of fearfulness. Fear of something happening to him. The idea of him in pain, or alone, or frightened. The thought stalls you reading it doesn’t it? Brings up that burning feeling of sickness in your stomach and makes your heart palpitate. In the car, out shopping, sometimes these dark thoughts flit around my head like black flies, to have me swat them away. I look back at his smiling face in the rear-view mirror as he spreads sausage roll pastry across the backseat.
Everything is ok…
These anxieties don’t colour my parenting. I don’t want him raised in cotton wool. Instead he should be muddy, climbing on rocks, jumping, learning safely to take risks. Because that’s living!
Don’t get me wrong, being a mum also gives me interminable joy. But the love and the ferocious to protect our children are emotions as powerful and devastating as the ocean in winter.
A visit to the hospital
Little man had returned from two weeks with daddy. He was irritable and not himself. Not uncommon when settling back into a new routine.
The next morning arrived and he quietly asked me to carry him downstairs for breakfast. The skin round the back of my neck prickled. He was pale. I gathered him up in my arms tucked him under a soft blanket and put on cartoons. Breakfast was refused and he sobbed as I dressed him. Pointing to his groin he said his leg hurt. Panic fluttered in my chest.
Has anyone else got a little homicidal at a doctors receptionist when they say there is an appointment for you sick child in 3 weeks time?
My boy stayed on the sofa and was so, so quiet. I do not remember a day being so long.
I could not function, I was so preoccupied with the waiting. From the GP that evening we went straight to the paediatric ward. Whilst the nurses did observations I plastered on a fake smile, sang songs, reassured my little boy. Clutched onto his hand. Time slithered by, the room overly warm and tinged with that clinical disinfectant smell.
The staff were so kind
So good with him. And me. Sandwiches and hot tea.
My heart goes out to parents with children that have long term illnesses. The strength they need to have. At one point the doctors thought it could be an infection in little lion’s hip bone. Bad. I carried him down to x ray rather than have someone wheel him. He is heavy and half the size of me but I staggered down 3 flights of steps and across the hospital. I am sure you will understand why.
Midnight brought my birthday and my son’s first blood tests.
Half asleep the doctors gently prepared his hand and asked him to count how many sheep were on the wall. He tensed as the needle went in and looked at them with wide eyes. Then, his lip began to tremble but he stayed still as a statue, holding me tight. His little vice whispered ‘what are you doing?!’ As soon as they finished he burst into tears and asked why the doctors hurt him.
My instincts were telling me to growl at all the people with sharp objects and run off with my son into the night.
Mothers experience a varied array of emotions when our precious child is sick; conflicting emotions pull our hearts in different directions. Helplessness, anger, sadness, guilt. The not knowing is terrible. Terrifying.
He was diagnosed with reactive arthritis. It is apparently common with young children. A couple of mornings later he was back to the whirlwind he is. Jumping on the bed. Never have I been so glad to see him misbehave!
I have watched him closer and help him tighter since. You can’t stop them from hurting or getting ill. We took some new books for the hospital to have in the waiting room and put extra love into our Postpals letters.
If you find yourself with a child in hospital, use your support network. Be sure you’re sharing age-appropriate information and talk about how the child is feeling. Siblings will feel confused and you torn between them.
Stick to as much of a routine as you can, shower and sleep. Eat.
Give them plenty to drink, take temperatures, keep THEM warm but not hot, rest, don’t fall asleep with sick babies on you. If your child is ill the most important thing to do is to listen to them.
Go with your gut feelings.