Monday, May 21, 2012

One Parent for Violet

When I was 18 years old, I had my wisdom teeth removed. When I awoke from the anesthesia, groggy and disoriented, the nurse brought me to a darkened room to lay down and wait for my mother who had accompanied me. As the nurse ushered my mother into the room, my mother's face turned ashen at the sight of my cheeks stuffed with bloody gauze. In an instant, my mother's legs wobbled and she crumpled forward, 'Oh, no!' the nurse exclaimed. 'Up! Up!' she ordered me. The haze and ache in my head left me reeling and unsteady as I tried to move out of the way so that my mother, the woman who was supposed to be my rock- and my ride home- could lay down and recover from a case of the vapors. 'I was just so worried about you,' she offered as her defense. If it had been a kidney transplant, I might have been less forgiving- having felt neglected in my own pain and recovery. But instead, my mother's episode made for light chaffing for years to follow.

When Henry was 5 years old, we agreed after years of respiratory illnesses and allergies, to have his tonsils and adenoids removed.  We were to arrive at the hospital at 7 AM. I was so overwhelmed by the 'What ifs?' that I did not eat that morning. It was the first warm day of the Spring- 80 degrees- and the overcrowded outpatient surgery waiting area was thick with heat of bodies exuding the same tense energy. To make matters more uncomfortable, my time of the month decided to arrive one week early and clobbered me with a vengeance.

When they finally took Henry from us at 2:00 PM, The Mr. bought us a candy bar to split. The rush of sugar made my stomach turn and made my nerves more frantic. I could feel the nausea quickly creeping up my throat and the lights in the room began to alternate in waves of dimness and brightness. The heat of an impending faint started to take over my body. As I began to morph into my mother, the nurse came to retrieve, "One Parent For Henry." The Mr. encouraged that I should be the one that Henry saw first. I stood up and there were stars before my eyes. As I wobbled down the hall, I could hear the nurse telling me that he had done so well. But, all I could do was declare, "I think I'm going to faint!"

"Honey, you're not the first. And you certainly won't be the last, " she said as she led me to Henry's bed. "Climb up on there with him. I'll get you a cold wash cloth." Henry who was groggy and tangled in wires and tubes opened his arms wide so that I could fit inside of them. "Mommy," he croaked with a drunken smile. How cool, he thought, that they are letting my mommy ride on the gurney to the recovery room. As I snuggled with my boy, the shroud of shame fell on me. I owed my mother a HUGE apology for ever giving her a hard time about fainting in the orthodontist's office- for making slight of her worriment or doubting her focus and strength.

The Baby underwent surgery last week for ear tubes and an adenoidectomy. This time, all of the maternal torment that infused my being years earlier took on the face of one giant, mother 'What if I pass out on the way to see my daughter?' Focusing on conjuring calm in order to be steady enough to hold my daughter helped to keep the morbid misgivings at bay. And when the nurse came to retrieve, "One Parent for Violet," I walked with confidence down the hall. My love for my toddler surged through my arms which ached to cradle her. And it's a good thing I kept it together. Have you ever seen the size of a toddler gurnery?


  1. I didn't faint for Chris! Experience helps!

  2. You know- I thought about that- and it gave me a little bit of hope that I might do okay the second time around. Oh and here's my apology: I'm so sorry that we teased you
    for all of those years. You are my rock, my inspiration;)

  3. I loved this. I'm forwarding it to a friend who's toddler is having the same surgery this summer. Hope your sweet girl is feeling back to herself in no time.

  4. beautifully written and moving! i hope she is doing fine and has already forgotten about the surgery

  5. Thank you Stephinie and Julia! She is doing so much better. And she has no recollection of the surgery.