I knew my daughter was safe in Dr. Daddy’s arms. I knew it didn’t make much sense for both of us to journey to the ER and to tote along the baby and a distressed, over tired preschooler with us. I knew my being there and even my embrace could not keep my child from hurting. But, still, I’m her mom and I wanted to be there.
Just after supper Baby Rae, who no longer officially holds the baby title but may forever answer to Baby Rae, had a head-on collision with a Wii remote. (Unfortunately, a child was injured in the making of this blog post.) After hearing a loud THUNK followed by even louder sobbing, I discovered Madeline, wide-eyed and trembling, hovering over her little sister. Then I saw the blood. A lot of blood running down Rae’s face. I didn’t even have time to think. I screamed and ran to her. I saw all that blood, and it was visceral. I just reacted.
It turns out that during a game of Wii bowling, our strike-monger Madeline swung the remote back and accidentally whacked her sister in the head. I’m not sure who was more distraught in the aftermath – the physically wounded child or the emotionally wounded one. Madeline was choking on sobs when she learned her sister had to go to the hospital and that she couldn’t go with her.
When I tucked her in, she told me to be sure to come into her bedroom and to whisper that Baby Rae was okay when she returned from the ER.
“Even if I’m asleep,” Madeline insisted.
After Madeline was conked out and the baby drifted off in the Ergo, I waited. I waited to hold Baby Rae in my arms and to kiss her tears away. When they finally made it back several hours later, Rae was tired but happy and sporting a hot pink Bandaid to cover her new stitches (the first set for our family). I scooped her up and she proudly showed me her boo-boo and the Elmo sticker on her belly. We cuddled for awhile before she asked to go “night-night.” The girl’s never one to skimp on sleep.
I hugged my husband and thought about how differently the night had turned out than we’d planned. The baby and I were supposed to be at a curriculum/social gathering with my homeschool co-op. Dave was supposed to have a quiet night to study after the older girls were asleep. I was supposed to be chatting with mom friends over a glass of wine and nibbling on the chocolate-covered strawberries I’d made earlier in the day.
Dave had even suggested we call his mom to come over, so I could still attend the curriculum night. “I can take Rae to the ER, and Nana can come stay with Madeline.”
“No,” I said. “I want to be here when she gets home.” (And I was thinking soiree or not, I could still eat a few chocolate-covered strawberries, which I did.)
Now that all my girls are sleeping, I’m reliving the night and all its commotion and realizing how that conversation with my husband pretty much sums up a desire I have for my life.
I want to be here at home for my children.
Of course, this is more than a want right now. It’s reality. At this stage of the game, my little ones are always home and considering our plans to homeschool at least for awhile, they’re going to be right here with me for a long time. But I know there will come a day when they’ll be ready to hightail it out of here and when they do, I’ll still want to be here for every one of their homecomings.
My mom once told me that she felt it was even more important for her to be home and available to us when we were older. A lot of her peers started working full-time when their kids started middle school and high school, but she said she felt that just her presence made a big difference during the hormonally challenged teenage years (and we were fortunate enough that my dad was able to support our family with just his income). I’m no expert on raising teenagers (although my preschooler does sometimes exhibit maddening defiance that reminds me somewhat of a spirited teen), but I’m inclined to agree.
When my children are young as they are now, they demand a lot of hands-on parenting. There’s always another diaper to be changed, another song to be sung, another boo-boo to be kissed, another sippy cup to be filled. However, in the not so distant future, my children won’t demand so much direct ministration. Yet, just because a child is old enough to be alone doesn’t mean she should always be left to fend for herself. What my children will always need – even if as teenagers they don’t know it – is my presence, my availability, and an open door policy that says, “I’m here if you need me.”
I’m blessed. I never came home to an empty house as a child or even as a college student. My mom was always there to ask, “How are you?”
Sometimes I delivered a lengthy monologue, dramatically recounting every detail of my day. Other times I said very little. But I always knew that if I had something to say, my mom was there to listen.
I want no different for my children. I won’t always be able to go with them or hold their hand as they venture out on their own. Tonight I could not be the one holding my little girl at the hospital. But I was here waiting for her to return to me with fresh stitches and Popsicle-stained lips.
One day I’ll find myself waiting for my daughter to visit during a college holiday break. Even before those college years, I’ll be waiting for my kids’ homecomings after sleepovers with friends or a weekend with the grandparents’.
I want to be here when my children return home from wherever they’ve been. I want them to know I’ll always (God willing) be around if they need to talk or are simply craving a batch of my homemade cookies or scones. I want to be available if they need someone to help heal their hurts as my toddler needed tonight. I want to be here, waiting where my arms can be a place of peace and rest, and a shelter from injury, doubt, and fear that my children can always, always return to.