The new year’s vows are going fairly well. I’m eating better, down four pounds, less stressed (lower stress level a factor of the workouts – the stress is still there, just managed better), and feeling a bit more balanced. My frantic mess of a life is finally getting organized, filtered, and put together.
However, yesterday life threw me another curve ball. And while it wasn’t dramatically life altering, in my “more balanced” state, I realized that the little things really do add up and have the potential to really throw you off your game.
When Morgan woke up, I could tell she wasn’t quite herself. A bit stuffy and a little clingy. She was also chewing on her fingers and happy, so I assumed it was teething. Dropping her at daycare, I left instruction to “temp” her (take her temperature) if she seemed even a bit off, and to call me even if she was below 100, as they aren’t required to call you until it reaches that magic number. I am traveling Wednesday-Friday of this week, so of course I was worried. Probably more worried that she’d get sick Tuesday night when it was too late for me to do anything, and I would have to leave her in the hands of my totally capable husband.
Yes, it’s a big deal for me not to care for my kids when they are sick – at least the first 24 hours. I am the mom. Nurturing them back to health is my job. It’s what I was made for. Sorry if that sounds like I’m stuck in the 40s, but women’s lib hasn’t liberated me from my desire to make sure my kids are well. Once we pass the initial diagnosis/beginning of medications/motrin-to-tylenol routine, I am more than happy to ask for help. Whether it’s my husband staying home so I can go to work, or one of our moms helping out, I feel certain at that stage that we’re in “recovery”. But those first critical hours? Mine, all mine.
So you would think I was prepared for the call I received at 3 PM, letting me know that she had a fever of 102.8. Or the news at the doctor’s at 3:30 that she was up to 103. You would think that I would have been ok when she briefly slipped into a state of partial conciousness (thankfully, just the spiky fever) in my arms at the doctor’s office. And you would think that I’d be relieved to find out that it was just an ear infection, and within 24 hours of antibiotics, she’d be back to her old self.
You would think. But for Morgan, it’s not just an ear infection. It’s an infection in the ear that lost a tube last month. It’s a phone call to the ENT, a consultation visit, another surgery. And this time, it may not be just the tubes. Because in kids that require a second set of tubes, they often require a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. But if you remove their adenoids, they have a better rate of success with the second set, and possibly avoid the six surgeries.
Ear tube surgery is simple. When we went for the first set, she was away from us for less than fifteen minutes. I will never forget sitting with her in the preop room, waiting. We gave her a quick hug, and the skillful nurses somehow grabbed her and disappeared. Before we could get upset, before we even realized what was happening, they had Morgan in the OR, probably asleep and getting her tubes. All in all, it wasn’t a bad day. Except for the general anesthesia. Totally freaks me out. And will again, I’m sure.
So it’s these moments in a working mom’s life (or any mom’s life, I suppose), where you realize that balance is really a delicate blend – a blend of focusing your efforts on meeting your kids needs, while also rolling with the punches in a way that allows you to survive. A blend of keeping your mind enough in the present to not worry about what tomorrow brings, with an eye on tomorrow to make sure you are doing right for your kids. A blend of sanity and insanity.
If there is anything my New Year’s resolutions have taught me, it’s that stress is what you make of it. It either rules you, or just coexists with you. I have chosen to let this stressful situation coexist. If you had asked me last night, I probably would have said “I hope she’s ok, I hope this is the end of her ENT issues, I can’t believe we have to go through this again, I will have to take time from work, etc, etc”. In fact, I did say all of those things. But the reality is, she’s healthy. She’s happy. She’s a well-balanced toddler with a spunky personality. So, today I say, “Let’s call the ENT, get this in motion, and be done with it”. After all, that’s really the only control I have over the situation anyway. And by recognizing that, I am finally realizing my own delicate blend of balance.