Actually picture the opposite of engagement.
I have spent a lot of time being quiet in the last 6 weeks. My daughter was home, in pain, unable to do much at all, suffering from a concussion. Consequently, I wanted to be close to her, soothe her and watch over her. It tore me a part that I could not protect her. Tore me apart. I felt so vulnerable in a way I never have. I have this nonsensical notion that we are protected over here, like under a tiny perfect glowing bubble where it does not matter that I leave my keys in the door some nights while we sleep, and this was an offence of which I could not make sense. She was minding her own business and not being reckless. How is this possible?
Apart from work and some quiet dinners and training for this, I was leading a small life.
I am not very fond of the small life.
I want to avoid getting dramatic here. There are other things, some even also start with C, that are far worse. Far worse. But we only know what we know and, as a doctor said to my favourite neighbour, when its our kids, its all serious. I am a really good well mom but I have recently decided I am a lousy unwell mom. I like all guns firing at full strength every day. My push is always for engagement and a full life. My children have always had 99% attendance records through middle and high school and elementary school was the same. That is practically epic. It is too scary to say no one ever gets ____ over here, for fear we will get cursed. But it is true.
I had a friend whose dad used to say off to school or off to the hospital if anyone claimed to be unwell. While that sounds Draconian, I tend to support it over the overindulge and the making precious every hangnail and headache.
But the doctors told me to shut it down. The thing about a concussion is no one can see it. You can’t put a cast on it. You can’t kiss it better. And you are not supposed to strengthen it to make it well. And that is counterintuitive to all I do and all I am. You need to do nothing.
Again, hand me an Oscar for drama, but nothing feels like death to me. It is so quiet. It feels sick. It feels insular. It feels joyless.
I slept with a fear each night that had my jaw sore from teeth clenching. Food tasted like my left shoe. I could not bear the waste of what she was missing. I wanted her back. Now. While they seem to know nothing about any of it, experts will tell you that all this disengagement, that they implore you to embrace, especially for an active teenager, can cause anxiety and depression. I was scared to death that would set in.
Plus it is not a knee or a hip. It is the BRAIN. OMG. The spectacular, amazing brain. Headquarters for your life. And hers is a beauty.
I also realized during all this quiet time that my children are my cheerleaders and I am theirs. When only one of us is doing the cheerleading it is quite different. Quite. And when all my cheerleading is useless and falls flat, I feel useless.
None of her excitement, humour, sass, energy in the house and in my daily life was a loss. A tremendous loss. But I said to myself hey self, don’t you see this is the way it is going to be in September? Get a fucking grip.
I have to take a lesson from every hard thing as I just can’t believe life just happens randomly. I have scrambled to figure out why 7 weeks had to be so difficult and painful for her. All I can come up with is life is divided into seconds. Some are unspectacular and some of them are game changers. This moment of concussion was to show me not to take wellness or people for granted ever, that I need to be stronger, more in charge and more patient in life than I ever have. As a bonus, I was able to see how VNB (very nice boyfriend) is when the going gets tough. I do like to kick the tires before I buy. Actually, truth be told, I keep kicking after the purchase. I am like my dad that way. You consitently hit it out of the park, VNB.
For her, she gets to re enter her life with fresh eyes and a new found love for all she is and all she has. Don’t mind me if I glue a permanent helmet on her head, though.
I could not say any of this outloud while she was suffering. I could not write to you about anything because nothing else mattered. I really quietly wondered how long it would go on for. And – gulp- was there any chance of lasting consequence?
But now she finally seems to be getting better. So it seems ok to speak.
I like the rain. I even love it. But when it rains for days and days on end and you don’t know when it is going to stop, it is so easy to lose perspective and forget the sun.