We waited until Nathan was on the bus and headed for school before we bundled up in fleece and warmth to walk to Grandma's house. We talked about 'smoke' in the air (frozen clouds of breath), safety crossing streets, and encouraged each other to keep going.
Just a few blocks from Grandma's, Zoe fell. I didn't see it, but somehow she fell with her chin being the one to greet the rough sidewalk first. I picked her up, soothing tones already in action, then realized the gushing wound was beyond any get-better kiss. Shirt, coat, gloves getting stained; my panicked thought that I had absolutely nothing with me to help handle this--
The man who opened the door just behind me was a man I've known almost all my life. At my request, he called my mom, who drove to come get us. While waiting, Zoe used the family's bathroom (as I held a quickly sodden crimson paper towel to her chin). A few blocks back to Grandpa & Grandma's, and Zoe watched a favored video while we waited for Grandpa to come home and give his medical assessment on whether stitches were needed.
I love physiology and planned for decades to enter medical school. One of my first dates with Trent involved treating a wounded hand he wasn't up to doctoring himself. I do not usually get light-headed around blood, but it requires great detachment to view your child's serious injury calmly.
Grandpa agreed the cut was too deep and the edges too far apart to join on their own, so to the clinic we went. My brain kept holding tight to the strand of purpose that was mine: Help Zoe. Comfort Zoe. Reassure her. Speak calmly. Use warm, non-grave pitches and tones. Keep her distracted from worry by asking other questions or talking of other things.
We waited a while in the procedure room while the P.A. finished up with another patient. We read books. Judith Viorst's book about Alexander's terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad day was a good fit for the tears that were still there. We spoke about stickers. I covered the upcoming syringe w/ one of the sterile instrument packets. Moms know there's no need to stare at an upcoming fear for all the moments until you absolutely must face it.
The time came for the shot, and my girl, who could hold off two adults on her own while still an infant, did a credible job of keeping three adults from easily putting a needle to her chin.
It's never easy for a mother's heart to hold down her child for the purpose of allowing pain, no matter how good the result will be. This shouldn't be, your heart cries. I'm to fight for her, not against her!
Needle done, but distraction was still needed for the space of three stitches, meticulously tied. Band-aid applied over all, sticker chosen from a counter basket, and we were back home shortly thereafter. Zoe asked me how come we weren't going to walk home from Grandma's house, truly puzzled. I laughed a bit, but was too drained at that point to risk anything else happening that might necessitate a sprint for multiple blocks, bloody trail following us home...
Lunch at home brought tears again, as muscles tugging at stitches made life painful. She pushed her plate away, and my heart hurt again. We snuggled in the living room recliner under warm blankets, her favorite stuffed friends, water cup, and dark chocolate m&ms at hand. After a bit of TV watching, I shut it off and we fell asleep, Zoe-girl snuggled up next to me, a trusting puppy-pile of exhaustion from the morning's events. It was a pocket of grace, rarely experienced with a sprite of perpetual chatter and movement.
Today, Abba, I am thankful your strength never fails. My heart was macerated as much as her chin this morning, and it took a good part of the afternoon to recover my strength from what was spent in care and comfort. She may very well carry memories of this morning for the rest of her life, but without reading my words, she won't know what this morning cost me -- may never know until she is a parent herself what her hurts do to your heart.
Thank you that you are never impatient with my fears. Thank you that even when you know the full purpose of them, you never scoff at my hurts. Thank you that your care and comfort always meet me where I am, whether waiting in 4-yr-old fear for the needle that's coming or trying to remember as an almost 37-yr-old that I shouldn't lock my knees to prevent falling over myself in a faint.
Thank you for letting me be a mom. Thank you for helping me be a mom. Thank you for showing me your heart, any and every time.