“I don’t want to have kids.” I remember saying it really clearly from the couch when I was in my early 20s. “What if something happens to them? I can’t even handle thinking about it now. What would I do if it really happened?”
I knew, even back then, that there were going to be huge cavernous mental challenges that I would have to overcome, or at least deal with, if I had children.
There would be the shift of having to care for another human being, not sleeping or having money, but above all else, I was terrified that something would harm them and I would have to see them in pain and have to deal with it.
And yet, despite all of that, four days before my thirtieth birthday, there I was a mother, having to face every one of those fears head on.
And this week, the biggest fear became reality, my two year old daughter got second degree burns on her hands after touching a charcoal grill at the beach.
Like any “child getting hurt” story, it happened when my husband and I had turned our backs for a second and suddenly we heard the scream that all parents fear.
She came out from behind the grill grasping beat red hands and we knew exactly what had happened.
By the time we reached the emergency room, her left hand was one giant blister. They placed her hands in a small bowl of cold water. I sat next to her on the hospital bed, wishing the bowl was a little bigger so that I could drown myself in it.
The word guilt didn’t come close to how I felt.
I was feet away when it happened.
The doctors where talking to me about pain management and bandages. These seemed like things discussed about someone who just attempted a stunt on a skate board, not my little two year old daughter.
The fear had over taken me. It had come true.
My son had his share of bumps and bruises. He even popped his arm out of the socket. But this was the first time, the words “scarring” was mentioned and the first time we left a place with follow up appointments and instructions.
This was the real deal.
We finally found ourselves at home at 10:30 that night. After motrin and lots of hugs and kisses my daughter and son were passed out in their rooms and Andy and I sat dumbfounded out on the couch.
This was what this feels like. This is why I never wanted to have kids. Right here. This weight in my chest and the feeling of hopelessness. The wishing to take away all of the pain. The knowing that that wish will never come true.
And the patience, the amount of sheer patience it takes to take care of a scared, injured child who can’t understand what is happening to them and can’t understand the pain will go away eventually.
It all flooded in Sunday night next to my husband, the same spot I sat in all of those years ago and said, I don’t want this.
Here’s the thing. It’s Tuesday and I’ve come to the conclusion,
I don’t want this.
This is a horrible, terrible feeling. This is the worst feeling in the world to have to watch your child go through pain and suffering.
It’s horrible to think that this won’t be the last time I have to go through something like this.
It’s horrible to know that in order for me to be deemed a “good parent” I have to willingly put them in harms way. I have to get them a bicycle, bring them to get their drivers license and help them get ready to leave the safety of our family home to navigate the world.
Moments like this, like what happened Sunday, give me pause about whether or not I made the right choice to have children in the first place. Am I really strong enough to handle this?
But then, it’s Tuesday.
It happened on Sunday and I AM handling this. I might not be handling the best at times.
I took a shot of gin after the kids went to bed.
But I’m handling it.
And in the end, I know Andy and I are the only ones I want teaching our kids how to ride bikes, drive (Andy will be doing that) and preparing for the world.
And I am the only one I want sitting on that hospital bed with my children telling them it’s going to be okay while trying to listen to my own advice for myself.