We spent the weekend prepping for unexpected, needle-embedded-in-my-preschooler’s-leg surgery.
Cael prepped by running around, playing baseball, and digging mud pits al fresco with his brother and cousin.
I prepped by thinking about food.
See, due to the rather unplanned nature of this entire event, he got pot luck when it came to a surgery slot for Monday. Surgery was scheduled for 2:00pm, as opposed to the early morning spots usually reserved for young kiddos.
2:00pm on Monday with instructions for no food or beverage after bedtime Sunday.
I understood the instructions. I even believe in them, since I think it’s pretty important to not have my kid asphyxiate on his own vomit during the surgery or recovery process. That’s just the kind of loving mom I am.
But I’m also a mom who feeds my kids, and, since propelling my kid through Monday was up to me, that meant dreaming up plans to distract him from a day of hunger.
I made and discarded several plans.
Movie? Nah. Scheduling didn’t work, and the popcorn smell might drive Cael (and me) a little nuts.
Pool? Almost. ‘Til I remembered that a 4-year-old + a pool = swallowed water. Not to mention how hungry we always feel after swimming.
In the end, I settled on a multi-tiered plan, tailored to Cael’s interests.
For example, I recently learned that I’m a Car Wash Scrooge. My kids reported to my friend Heidi — after she was Santa Freaking Claus and took them through one — that Greg and I save car washes for our special alone time. I hear we never, ever, ever let the kids go with us. Oh, how they cheered for Heidi and her extravagant car-washing ways.
On surgery day, I broke my Car Wash rule (the one I didn’t know I had) and took Cael through it.
Yep, it was as though the heavens parted. The sun beams shone through the clouds and onto my anointed head. Cael was astonished. He was grateful. He was endlessly entertained for the 4 minutes that activity lasted.
4 minutes down. 5 hours and 56 minutes to go.
While Cael rode the car wash, I thought about food.
We went to the toy store.
While Cael played, I thought about food.
Was he hungry?
We went miniature golfing.
While Cael sank his first hole-in-one, I thought about food.
Was he getting tired from lack of nutrition? Should we slow down? Speed up?
We went to the arcade. I thought about food.
We drove to the bank. I thought about food.
We drove to the hospital to check in.
I thought about food.
Surgery was delayed and delayed and delayed again…
so, for two additional hours, until 4:00pm, I thought about food.
In the end, the surgeon took a little, pesky needle out of my baby.
And I stopped thinking about food for just a while.
Instead, I thought about my son’s life.
I thought about how very much I didn’t want him in surgery.
I thought about how very grateful I was that we only had to do this for a day, because I also thought a lot about Cael’s cousin, Kay, and her mommy and daddy, who have had to do this hospital thing for days and days and weeks and months as she battles cancer.
And then I thought about food.
I thought about the worry I felt, knowing my child would go hungry for part of a day.
I thought about how I planned and prepared and organized for our 6 (or 8 ) waking food-free hours.
I thought about the money I spent to distract Cael. The money on gas. On a new book. On golf and the arcade.
And I thought about the mamas in East Africa right now who are experiencing drought and watching their babies go hungry for far more than a part of one day.
I thought about how very much I don’t like to think about that because it makes me feel helpless, and it’s just easier not to think about all of the tragedies in the world, and all of the sad mommies and hurting kids.
But Cael’s brief hunger was like a sharp lens that reminds me to focus on our global journey through life together. We mamas. Because I can’t experience my own child’s pain without knowing that another’s is greater… a child whose name I don’t know, but who needs my help.
Remember We Are The World? I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s, and, even though my jelly shoes and sky-high bangs make me wonder with acute embarrassment whether my taste is worth mentioning, the energy and hope around that song carried profound meaning for me.
They say this famine could be worse. The worst in 60 years.
Which made me think about what we might do if we mamas work together to spread the word about this disaster and small ways we might actually make a huge difference.
Here’s one idea:
If you want to help families in East Africa, Medical Teams International is responding. I donate through Medical Teams because I believe in their mission and because of their financial accountability.
I donate through Medical Teams because my $30 donation is able to deliver more than $5,976 in humanitarian aid.
I donate through Medical Teams because “aid” — which can be so clinical and remote a term to me, as I type on my laptop on my cushy mattress next to my sleeping child who’s already recovered from his surgery — doesn’t mean simply “help” to the mamas who have to think about food and hunger every minute of every day.
“Aid” means life.
And life, after all, is what we mamas are all about.