Two nights ago, Wendy had a fever. We had just opened a bottle of wine and I had made a nice dinner. We had weekend guests. The fever, the phone calls, the worry, the not-drinking of the wine, the not-enjoying of the dinner. The continuing worry overnight, sleeplessness, wondering if we had made the right decision to wait until the morning to get labs. Then the next morning, where I didn’t make breakfast for our guests but offered cereal or yogurt. Then there were more phone calls, more appointments, prescriptions to fill, follow-ups to be made.
Thank God it was nothing major, and did not require a hospitalization. But the day was basically shot, Wendy was shot, I was shot.
We weren’t much fun.
Don’t get me wrong, we all know that parenting has a lot of moments that aren’t much fun. There’s a responsibility to keep the kids fed, clothed, and safe. There is a lot of slogging: carpools and dirty dishes and laundry. But being the parent of a chronically ill kid has all of that PLUS the additional medical stuff. Daily medications. Drinking requirements. Blood sugar checks and insulin pump changes. Doctors’ appointments and conversations with the school nurse. Refills of prescriptions, paying out-of-pockets for items not covered, but still needed for life.
That’s not including the days where normal life goes off the rails, and you have a sick kid who is heading to the hospital for tests.
It’s a lot to keep track of, it’s not that much fun, and it’s made me look and feel older than I actually am. I’m told stress will do that.
So it is nice when I’m reminded of a time when I was actually a good time to be around, when I had few responsibilities and a healthy sense of adventure. There is no better way to remember that than when I’m with friends who knew me BEFORE I had kids. Now, Michael and I had kids on the early side, Wendy was born when I was 28, so I’m talking about people who knew me in my early twenties.
I recently was reminded of a story by my friend Sarah,
“Remember when we hung 300 condoms outside the College Union Building to protest the condom policy [during the height of the AIDS crisis]?”
Oh my God. I really had done that. Me, the woman who carries around a mobile medical lab in my purse. I had hung all those condoms in protest. We got called into the Dean’s office over that. Later that same Dean offered me a job.
Or my friend Hutch, who reminded me of the time I convinced him that he and I wouldn’t need money to go to the bar one night in my senior year, because we were cute enough to have people buy us drinks. It turned out, I was right.
Again, me? The woman who stops at one drink most times or a wild night of two drinks so she can accurately tabulate blood sugars? That was me? I did that?
Thank you, friends, who remind me of what I was like before I had a sick kid, who show me what my inner core is, who I really am, or was.
Here’s the thing. I probably won’t do those things again. It’s just nice to be reminded that I did do them. And the common thread between the stories from my friends is that I was more spontaneous and less afraid. The fear is hard to minimize: parenthood makes cowards of us all.
But I am going to try to be more spontaneous in the future. That’s something I can give myself back in the New Year. I think that I would really like that to be a New Year’s Resolution: Say yes more, be more spontaneous, worry less, plan less.
At the very least, my kids will have really great stories about me, and that alone would be worth it.