My little girl is sick today. Nothing that won’t be cured within a few days, but the poor thing looks awful. She went to bed seeming fine last night and woke up this morning with a nasty case of conjunctivitis and an ear infection. It happened that fast- went to bed healthy, woke up touched by the hand of yuck. By the time I got home from work this evening her eyes had gotten so bad (yes, she went to the doc’s this morning and is now on antibiotics) that not only were her lids puffy and swollen looking; her eyeballs red and all sorts of goopey; but she also had these racoonish, red, rash-like marks under her eyes from rubbing at them so much. Luckily that little spark plug doesn’t let much break her stride. She was marching around the house wearing a mismatched pair of PJs; a white, scratchy Easter type of hat that is meant for her teddy bear (so it’s a size too small); and a pair of old school, strappy roller skates. She looked like an elderly drag queen. Still, when I took one look at her my stomach did that thing. Parents, do you know the thing I’m talking about? Does this happen to you? Ever since that little peanut crept into my heart I have had this thing happen when I even think about her being hurt or sick or in discomfort, never mind when she actually is, my stomach does an uncomfortable dropping thing. It’s weird. It’s a visceral response to this awful feeling that as much as I want to do everything humanly possible to protect this small person I love more than almost anything else in the world, I can’t. It makes me sick. Tease me all you want for quoting what might seem like a cliche, but I really do get this particular one since she entered my life: “Making a decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”* Hell yeah. It’s like having your heart when it’s head over heels in love walk outside your body and into a six lane stretch of rush hour traffic on the beltway and your brain is on the side lines screaming, “Be careful! Watch out! Be careful!!!”
Sometimes I worried before my daughter was born that I wouldn’t feel this deep attachment to her because of our lack of biological, genetic or gestational connection. Yet when I have that feeling in my stomach- as uncomfortable a reminder as it is- I also take a tiny bit of solace in knowing that she is so much a part of me that I feel her in my body. And that makes me realize the power of our bond goes much deeper than any trace of biology.
*quote by Elizabeth Stone