He came on the Fourth of July holiday five years ago to parents who'd once thought life was about running. They chose a name that meant "gift from God," and he was, in more ways than one. He was busy and curious and never standing still. His first word was "go!" His first sentence was " [I'll] be back, Momma." He was a textbook baby his first year, sleeping through the night at exactly six weeks, crawling at seven months, and walking at a year and a week. He lulled his parents into thinking all babies were that peaceful and wonderful (His spitfire sister was born one day shy of his fourteenth month and proved them wrong!).
His fourth year was one amazing moment after another. He taught himself to swim the summer he turned four. He swam for hours each day at the pool. He played soccer for the first time in the fall of that year. A few games into the season (and during a terrible downpour no less!), he got the hang of soccer in an instant. You never saw him without the ball the rest of the season. In the spring he balanced himself easily on a scooter so training wheels were removed. He became a two-wheel rider with absolute ease. His clumsy mother marveled at the things that came to him so easily. He was a natural athlete with a long, slender body where baby chub had once been. He wasn't only a marvel in athletics though. His once-teacher mother showed him flashcards with sightwords and word families. He read so well that year that she put the brakes on the teaching so he'd have something to learn once he started kindergarten.
That boy is my one-and-only son, and of course, that momma is me. And forgive me if I seem like I'm boasting (though I'm really just telling the facts). Today I am reflective and thankful. You see, my son fell off that bike last night. I came upon the accident scene (a once fun dirt "mountain" in our neighborhood) and saw an enormous amount of blood all over his face and shirt. Rick took him home, and he was cleaned a bit in the tub. Alabama red dirt and blood were everywhere. His sister surprised us all by quickly fetching his clean clothes, water, and paper towels to wipe up the mess (her little stool is still in the kitchen where she'd raced to get the towels). She spent the night at her ever-helpful aunt's house.
We were in the ER for five hours. While we waited, I examined and cleaned up and dabbed the way only a mother can. I comforted and told what was going to happen as though it was no big deal (they can sense your fear). I signed the permission forms while blinking back tears. I whispered gently into his ear about the failed IV attempt being "no big deal" though inside I was angry that they had to stick him twice. I watched the doctors sedate him and put stitches inside his mouth and in his once perfect-skinned cheek. I sat on the edge of my seat during the operation to fix his wounds (why would they let the parents stay in the room for such a thing?). I heard his pulse beeping on the monitor, "99, 101, 100" and was brought back in an instant to the sound of the fetal heart rate monitor I used every day in my second trimester with him (The things a previous miscarriage will do to you are haunting). I wiped tears (his and mine) and sang songs and rocked the best that one can without one's comfy rocking chair. While we waited for the presciptions to be filled, I ran through the 24-hour grocery store and picked up jello, chicken broth, ice cream, and pudding to feed him over the next few days. I adjusted plans and thought about how missing the last soccer game this weekend would also be painful to my four year old.
It is the next day, and he is asleep now. Today I think of his bravery in the ER, his needs today, and how grateful I am to God for protecting him. And yes, yet again, with great ease I put running aside as I mother my sweet boy.