When people talk to you about having kids, they often ask you if you’re ready to give up your freedom, your ability to go out when you want, see whatever movie you want, eat whatever you want, stay up until 4am, sleep in when you want, have sex when you want, work late if you need to, live in a crappy apartment in a bad school district if you so choose…so many sacrifices. People list them and warn you. And you say, “Yes, I’m ready. I want a baby to love and to hold and to care for. I want to smell the sweet smell of a baby’s head after a bath, and hear their laughter at some silly thing. I want a child to grow up and be my friend and love me in the way that children love their parents. I want to go watch their ball games and ballet recitals. I want to hold them and comfort them when they’re sick. I want it. I want it all.” And if you’re fortunate, you get all of that.
But do you know what no one asks? “Are you ready? Ready to see your child in pain, and to not be able to help them? How will you deal with that?” And that’s the hard part sometimes. Maya got her braces tightened yesterday, and she was in so much pain. Truly grumpy and nothing we could do would help. No pain killers (didn’t work…we tried), no cuddles, no ice cream or smoothies or distracting movies. Nothing. All we could do was sit there and see her feel miserable. And I realized, like a bolt of lighting, that even though she gets her braces off in a couple of months (November, we hope), this isn’t the end of being helpless in the face of her pain. She will face rejection from a crush. She will break up with someone she loves. She will have disappointments from not getting into the school she wants, or not getting the job she wants. She will have friends disappear from her life, and will wonder why. She will have troubles that I haven’t imagined yet. Maybe the death of someone she loves. Maybe not being able to have children. Maybe something worse. I don’t know. And I feel helpless. Seeing her sad, angry face tonight, so miserable with pain and wanting it to go away. Wishing there was something I could do to help her through it. Knowing that there isn’t. This is the part I wasn’t really prepared for.
People tell you that your mother can kiss your boo-boo and make the pain go away. We should remember enough from our own lives to know that this simply isn’t true.