Posted on | October 24, 2012 | 5 Comments
On Tuesday nights, I like to invite a couple of other moms over for dinner. We keep it simple: spaghetti and garlic bread, sometimes a salad and sometimes dessert. They come bearing toddlers the same age as J, and we watch as our kids run around like crazy and entertain the hell out of themselves and us while we get to actually engage in adult conversation.
Last night was no different. I’d invited two moms and their boys over and J was excitedly pacing the floor, waiting for their arrival. The doorbell rang at quarter after five and we stepped over to open the door. In his excitement to greet his friend, J fell headfirst into the corner of the large wooden bookshelf that sits directly beside the door.
The sound that echoed in the room was horrific, a mix between a crack and a thud, and my child fell to the floor, curled in a ball, and began to heave with silent tears. And every mother knows it’s the silent tears that hurt the most. For the first time, the words “this hurts me more than it hurts you” made perfect sense, there as I felt his every tear two fold… once for his pain and once for my own. Because he is an extension of my heart, a piece of my soul forever twined about his legs and arms and sweet face. So when he hurts, I hurt twice.
I scooped him up in my arms, cradled like the baby he used to be, and rocked him in time to his sobs as my friend stepped into the house, took control, and brought out a bag of frozen corn for his head. She called the 24 hour nurse line and spoke with them about what happened and what assurances were needed. She convinced my son to sit calmly beside her, bag of corn to his head, as I put on the Polar Express and escaped to the kitchen where my tears fell hard and fast into the boiling water for pasta.
I cried until my cheeks burned with the weight of my tears, cried until the dinner was complete and the nurse called back to answer additional questions. I cried as though my heart had broken along side my son’s excitement, cried as though the lump on his head was a lump on my own, his tears mine, his sobs coming from my own lungs.
And then I pulled myself together and finished dinner. I sat and talked with my friends and gave my son a dropper full of arnica in his juice to help him heal. By 6:30, he was happily playing with his friends. I still had to wake him up every two hours to make sure he didn’t have a concussion, but other than sheer exhaustion for both of us, we’re both okay this morning.
Though I have to admit, for the moments that followed his tumble, I was frozen with the knowledge that I am all alone in this. Granted, I was fortunate to have invited two friends over who happened to be there when this happened. But had they not been there, I would have been alone… by myself to stem the tears, to calm his spirit and to judge his need for medical care. Had they not been there, I would not have been granted the luxury of expelling my tears in the corner of my kitchen, letting them fall as needed until I cleansed myself of the sound of his sweet head hitting the side of the bookcase.
Being a single parent has never felt quite so terrifying as in those still moments when my son shook with pain too great to voice and I shook alongside him, in fear of my solitude.