It’s 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday night. My son calls me from his room downstairs on my cell.
“Mom. My stomach kills.”
I go to his room and check on him. At nearly 17, this one rarely complains about ailments and really never needs my help for a stomachache.
I’m on alert. I check on him and he doesn’t look ‘right’. Mother’s intuition kicks in and I touch the right side of his stomach. He looks pained, but not too bad. Something in me insists he must go the ER. I had my appendix out in 2010 and I knowthe signs. Off he goes with Dad.
I go back to bed. Exhausted, after an already long day caring for my sick daughters, two of three who have fevers and bad coughs. I myself, have been sick for a week. I try to sleep to no avail.
My phone texts back with hubby checking in. I doze off for about ten minutes when my ‘ding’ awakes me. “Appendicitis. Surgery in a few hours.”
I lay awake, wondering what to do. It’s 3:00 a.m. and I have about three hours until surgery. If I leave now, my 14-year-old will not be conscious enough to watch her sisters. I contemplate how complicated parenting and emergencies are. Should I wake a friend? Call my sister in the middle of the night, who just started a new job? Just stay home and let my son handle surgery with just his Dad?
I suddenly freak out that my preschooler has Mom’s Day at school at nine. She’s been so excited. I can’t miss it.
Nothing feels right. And, at 4:00 a.m., exhausted and with one eye open, I call my parents.
Thousands of miles away, I just need to talk it out. I wake up my dad and decide that I want to go to the hospital. I want to be there. I wake up my 14-year-old at 5:00 a.m., grateful to have a child old enough to help out in an emergency. She’s amazing and jumps to help.
Surgery is successful. Then the nurse tells me that because my son is no longer a child, I cannot go in to see him in recovery. Ugh. Thanks for the painful reminder.
Once I do get to see his face and kiss his cheek, I run out the door to Moms Day. Pushing on adrenaline, I am oddly reminded of the following “Diff’rent Strokes” episode where Arnold gets his appendix out, as I drive the car on going on one hour of sleep.
With Mom’s Day a success, I run home to check on my girls. Then, run back to the hospital to relieve my husband and let him get some much needed rest. I sit next to my son as he sleeps, reminding myself that even though he’s almost an adult he looks so innocent and sweet and vulnerable laying there in that bed.
I am grateful, that I had my own appendix removed a few years earlier and by some miracle, immediately recognized the signs. I am thankful that he’s going to be just fine. I feel blessed that we are lucky enough to be surrounded with great friends as the texts and phone calls start to pour in. Offers of help, food, kindness and rest.
Lately, I have had this worry that as my children grow, I will no longer have a job as Mother. My job is 18 years and done.
Then what? But, I am learning that truly being a parent doesn’t end, it just morphs. You go from Life Support to Life Coach to an occasional check-in, in the blink of an eye. I’m 39 and at 4:00 a.m., in crisis mode, I called my dad in the middle of the night. Total instinct.
I will try to remember, in a few months when we say goodbye to my son for a year abroad, that he really will still need us sometimes. My job as a parent isn’t ‘done’ – it’s just changed. He no longer needs me in the recovery room, but will let me know in longer term healing how I can help.
I guess, we’ll see how it all plays out.
“You don’t know what you talkin’ bout, Sara” I chuckle to myself, as my head finally finds a pillow.
And then, I go to sleep.