When I was anticipating becoming a mom, I assumed that some of my natural responses to the smell/sight of poop, pee, snot and other bodily fluids would disappear. “It doesn’t bother you with your own child” the veterans assured me. I fully believed that the gagging reflex that I succumbed to at the mere mention of vomit would morph into the loving coo of a mother bird caring for her young.
After I became a mom, I learned the hard truth. Poop still stank, boogers were still nasty, and throw up? Let’s just say that mine was often quickly mixed in with theirs.
But we plowed through and made it to potty training. We learned to wipe our own noses, and how to give Mommy a 5-second warning before the onset of barf. My kids were finally old enough to pick up the doggy doo and flush the commode. I thought we were in the clear.
Because then we hit the stage where every adventure resulted in bleeding. Bloody noses, bloody lips, bloody knees, bloody heads. And now, years later, the trail of blood has followed us into our teens. Currently, we are on vacation, and I have been watching my son dive off a dock. He just yelled out to me across the water, “Is it bad if I’m bleeding?”
Yes, dear. It’s bad.
Luckily, it was just a minor scrape. But I can’t think of anything worse than watching your child in pain. And over the last 16 years, we have worn out the medical dictionary at our house. Staph infections, urinary disorders, severe asthma, broken bones, speech impediments, IBS, OCD, and, most recently, alopecia areata. Probing tests, biopsies, medications, and endless sessions with doctors. And the Googling … so much Googling …
These days, a kiss and a cookie doesn’t quite cut it. I am no longer the hero that can make it all better. I have been outed as a human being who doesn’t know how to fix the problem, or even how long it will last. And I hate it.
But, surprisingly, once I admitted this to my kids, they were cool with my lack of super powers. Turns out they don’t need the cookie anymore. Instead, they need to know that I am not going anywhere, that I will trudge through the muck with them. So, I don’t make promises. I don’t avert my eyes at the gross parts. I don’t pretend I have everything under control. Now, I hug them tight, kiss their cheeks, and hold their hands in mine as we talk, cry, yell, laugh — and hopefully, heal.