I walked into the lab and held my child in my arms. He was delighted to see new faces and smiled and cooed and attracted a crowd as he often does. I held him tighter as the needle pierced his skin. He screamed and he squirmed. We both cried.
I held my boy close and sang You Are My Sunshine because it was the only thing I could think of to sing and because I love him more than I care about what people think about my voice.
I held him again when they said they didn’t get enough blood so they had to go in again. And I prayed that this time they would get enough, and that the tests would be fine and we’d not have to come back.
When we were done we got back into the van that has decided to run the heater full blast whenever I turn on the air conditioner. By the time we get anywhere these days we’re all damp and cranky.
Concern about health problems, waiting for appointments and the nonstop heat has taken its toll. I don’t care so much about appearances. I’m exhausted. It is strangely liberating.
We went to a local grocery store to pick up an impromptu dinner to eat on the way home. “Can’t we stay inside a little longer?” the kids asked. And so we did. We went to the deli section with our groceries and I started opening packages and doling out dinner. I expected stares and comments, but I got….grace.
Dominic, recovered from the insult of a blood test, set out to charm the 3 ladies at the next table. He succeeded. We struck up a short conversation. The kids were polite and well-mannered while we were there. If anyone objected to us taking over the space, we couldn’t tell.
And so I started thinking, as I often do. It is so ingrained to keep up appearances, to keep going when things are falling apart. I’m coming to realize that people are more understanding than I think they are. We do sometimes get some derogatory comments about having a large family, but we also get a lot of support.
When I stop focusing on myself, I am able to appreciate the smile of a stranger. I become willing to say hello, to take or offer help where needed. I remember that I am a part of a larger community (of which I am not the center).
I don’t want to set out for another eleven hour day in a hot van any time soon, and I certainly don’t want another blood draw. I’m stressed about an upcoming visit to the cardiologist for my son. And in the midst of my worry and exhaustion there is always room for grace.