For the first time in his life, my son is not with family. Instead, he is lying on an operating table, for a procedure that I am told is quite minor. But let me tell you, nothing seems minor when the word surgery involves your baby. Or child. I have this habit of comparing my situation to others in an effort to make myself feel better. Perhaps this is my own self-soothing, but whatever it is, the process usually makes me feel better.
When I was pregnant and having a hard day, I thought to myself, at least I am not pregnant with twins. That would be so much harder! Or, if that woman could have nineteen kids, surely I can have one! In the past few weeks I have spoken with moms who have experienced surgeries far more complex and invasive than the one my son is currently undergoing. Things like open-heart surgery to correct arteries attached backwards, cleft palates, and the like.
Hearing these stories gave me comfort. If these women could get through however many hours being apart from their child, worrying and overcome with anxiety, surely I could get through an hour and a half, right? An essential part of becoming a momme is joining the community of women, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, friends, colleagues and such that are mothers, nurturers, caregivers and understand what it is the have unconditional love for another being that you created or care for like they are your own.
Knowing that others have traveled down this path before you, and gone through the hard nights, kissed boo-boos and dealt with lack of sleep, frustration, fears and worries is extremely comforting to me. It binds women in a way that nothing else can, because really, we are all in this together. There may be some new bottles or theories about when to introduce rice cereal and foods, but the essentials of motherhood never change. It is the reason many new moms feel a bond with their own mother like they have never experienced before, because suddenly, they understand. They have been initiated into the club.
Walking around Costco this past Sunday, the store was packed with people, many of them frustrated and wanting to move as quickly as possible. One gentleman made a rude comment to a slower walking couple, and I as a new mom immediately made eye contact with the mom of a four-year old girl and we shared a knowing glance. As moms, we know what it is like to experience frustration and lack control on a daily basis, we have come to almost expect it. Our patience and understanding has increased, and we share a bond, even though I had never met this woman before. She said to me, “what does this guy expect on Sunday at the busiest Costco in the country?”
We smiled and laughed. We are both moms, and we both get it. Listening to other mom’s stories about their experiences with surgeries on their little ones provided me tremendous comfort that google searches and talking to a doctor never could. These women had been through the same thing as me and survived, and I knew that I could do the same.
The paging board just changed colors, which means my son is done with his procedure. I can’t wait to kiss his face and look into his eyes, and know that we got through this together, just as so many other mommes and babies have before us.