When Riley was little — maybe three years old? — I agreed to have him participate in a study on bone density. It was this slightly creepy deal where I had to take a class C medication during pregnancy and at the time all the doctors were like, it’s fine! It’s totally fine, don’t worry! And then afterwards a medical group got in touch with me and they were all, oh, that drug you took? Totally fine! But we’re just doing this eentsy beentsy study to see if children’s bones, um, disintegrate when mothers take it. But ha ha ha, it’s FIIIIINE.
Anyway, I’m all in favor of studies that actually provide sound scientific proof behind the whole chorus of IT’S FINE!, so I said sure, and I trundled Riley over to the Seattle Children’s Hospital for an X-ray of his … gosh, I can’t even remember. His hips and legs, I believe.
(Spoiler alert: he was fine! Totally fiiiiine.)
Going to the children’s hospital, though … man. My heart started hammering around in my chest as we headed in and I could see kids here and there who weren’t so fine, children with bald heads and enormous shadowed eyes and children in wheelchairs and jesus, I felt like the world’s biggest asshole, welling up as I walked the halls with my perfectly healthy, chatty toddler.
I remember feeling this great crashing wave of never wanting to take a moment with my children for granted ever again, that if they were healthy and happy that’s all that mattered in the entire world. And then I remember being intensely irritated with Riley all of half an hour later, as he pickily hemmed and hawed over the little box of toys that the X-ray lady offered him as a prize for holding still during the scan. “Hurry up,” I hissed at him, mortified at his greediness.
I don’t really have a point here, other than I was thinking about perspective lately, and how slippery it is to hold onto. I bitched and moaned mightily about how long this winter break from school has been, then I blinked back tears as Riley climbed on the bus this morning. Last night I couldn’t wait for the kids to go to bed, then I sat on the couch and read someone’s blog post about their children approaching the teen years and how hard things are getting, and I ran back into my boys’ bedrooms to kiss their confused, sleepy faces. And on it goes — I have a thousand examples. Christ, a BILLION. I’m sure you do too.
It’s sort of ridiculous, isn’t it? How parenting so often makes you feel as though you’re not feeling the right thing at the right time.