Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
~ Elizabeth Stone.
This quote made complete sense to me the first time I laid eyes on my son, but there were many other momentous experiences I was – and still am – not prepared for.
Parenting strengthens the heart, and I don’t mean by the love a child fills you with. I want to cry with my son every time he cries, especially when I can’t take away his pain. I have to keep my tears hidden, because he needs me to be strong.
It strengthens the stomach. From puke to blood to poop. I’ve seen it all, I’ve smelled it all, and I’ve had to clean up every drop and chunk. Not fun, but it has to be done. I can’t afford to add my puke to his, because that would mean more to clean up, and no one likes to see other people puke, especially a parent.
It strengthens the body. I discovered I’m a lightning bolt with stubby legs when I see my son in danger. One time we played on a sandbar when Tom was not yet two. He wandered into the water and fell into a hole. I never ran so fast in my life. He didn’t go but six inches under water when I had him in my arms and returned to the shore. I did it all in about 3/4 of a second, but it felt like twelve minutes.
It strengthens the nerves. Bugs and insects don’t bother me. There are plenty I don’t like, though. Wasps being one of them. Ugly creatures. But I don’t run away screaming when I see one. I just think they’re ugly with their skinny little bodies. One insect does make my skin crawl, and that’s a tick. They’re also ugly, but what creeps me out is how they can crawl all over you, suck your blood, and you don’t feel a thing. I see one crawling on me and it takes all my wherewithal to remove it and either flush it down the toilet or burn it.
Right before Tom stepped into the shower this evening, he called me into the bathroom and asked me to remove something from his hair (you know where this is going, don’t you?). At first it looked like a piece of caramel stuck in his hair, but then I noticed the shape. My first instinct was to call my husband and tell him to remove it. He was in the garage, however, so I steeled myself, grabbed a pair of tweezers and removed it all by myself. I then flushed it down the toilet.
I was proud of myself, not only that I removed it all by my lonesome, but that I managed to not cringe or make weird noises and faces as I did so. Like with everything else, my son needed to see me calm, so he wouldn’t freak out.
That’s not to say I didn’t shudder after I left the bathroom, or that my skin isn’t crawling with the heebie-jeebies as I write this. Because I did, and I am.