As my children are getting older (and so am I), motherhood seems to be defined in so many different ways. One thing remains constant for me, and that is the feeling of being afraid. Afraid for your child.
Before I became a mom, so many people told me how hard being a parent was. In my early months of parenthood I never could understand what they meant, because everyday mothering seemed more wonderful. Until one day, while feeding my first child, hives popped out all over his body. Another day a child on the bus would not sit next to my son because of the color of his skin. One day it was ear tube surgery, the next day, eye surgery. Somehow I managed to get through these times (so did the kids.) I was being a mom.
When the doctor called to tell me that our then 14-year-old’s scoliosis x-ray was normal, I didn’t expect him to say, “We have some concerning information though. The x-ray shows that your son’s heart appears enlarged.” I was at work when I received the call so I naturally wrote down everything he said, much like a case note I would have written for a client.
I was professional. I was calm. “What do I do?” He told me. I did it. Cardiology appointment made. Everything organized. I was being a mom.
The hard part came when I realized I needed to tell someone what was going on. Husband. Yes, call him. And so I told him. He had way too many questions and I had no answers. I would not search the Internet knowing I would only find doom. Since the appointment was almost three weeks away, we decided not to tell our son about the cardiology appointment until closer to the date. Not one day passed without me worry that something may be wrong with my son’s heart. Not one day. When my mother told me she was so worried about it, I snapped at her because I could not talk about it. Professional. Calm. I was being a mom.
The day before the appointment I finally told my son that he would need to miss some school the next morning because he had a doctor’s appointment. Besides being a bit stressed over missing a class or two at the very start of his freshman year in high school, he handled it well. But he didn’t ask why he had an appointment. From experience, I have learned only to give a child the information they want to know when they are ready to know.
Later that night he asked and I answered. He asked if it was true that his heart was enlarged what would it mean? I told him I wasn’t sure but that medication, diet and an exercise program may be prescribed. Okay, I cheated and looked on the Internet. I was being a mom.
The appointment came and we sat in the pediatric cardiology waiting room with young mothers and their infants. We sat amongst the toys that my son didn’t play with anymore because he was a teenager. After filling out the new patient forms, a kind doctor came to the waiting room to greet us. In less than twenty minutes I watched my son being weighed, have his oxygen level taken, and an EKG and an ultrasound done. The doctor engaged my son in conversation and educated me (and the medical student beside us) about hearts.
He then said, “Nothing to worry about mom. His heart is fine.” I cry every time I recall that moment just as I cried when I first heard those words. I thanked every possible higher power right then, and the doctor, too. I was emotional because I was afraid and because my son was okay. I was being a mom.
About the Author
When Michele Fried founded Adoption STAR in 2000, she was using her entrepreneurial skills for a precious enterprise: she wanted to create forever families. Michele became a passionate advocate for adoption after she and her husband Chuck adopted their first child almost 29 years ago. Ten children later, Michele’s most important job is parenting. She frequently writes and speaks about adoption and parenthood. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.