Paranoia is Normal, when You’re a Mom

July 25, 2011. Karsten’s first injury at school.

It’s the dreaded phone call you hope you never get—the one with the cheery teacher’s voice, where you swallow the lump in your throat, while reassuring yourself, it’s nothing serious.

The chirpy voice on the other end tries to explain as nicely as she can—but you know it’s not exactly good news: there’s been an accident, a minor one.

She says there was blood, and they want to take your son to the hospital. You come to your senses, because the lot of blood, you are told, was just a gash on his lip from a tumble, that lip that always gives him trouble.

If your husband were here, you reason, he wouldn’t freak out. He would be sensible. “It’s just a busted lip,” he’d say, “And he’s a boy!”

Boys will always be boys, you know…but this is your boy. Your only boy.

“Don’t take him to the clinic,” you answer calmly, into the phone. “Take him home.”

He comes home, thirty minutes later, the longest half-hour you’ve ever waited for him. He’s draped over the nanny’s shoulder, his face fixed in a little frown, but his eyes are closed, asleep. You know there were tears, loud ones, and they still trickle from the corners of his eyes. But he’s here now. And you just needed to see him to know that he’s okay.  You tuck him into a safe bed, kiss him goodbye, and hope that when he wakes up, he won’t remember the pain.

Then, you quietly slip out the door, to leave for the day’s work.

+++

Will the lifelong task of being a mother, never be one of anxiety and endless worry? I watched Nat Geo’s documentaries last night of people, both around the world and in my own country, in troublesome places—the horror, the living nightmares. And I wondered about how my own son would fare in the world.

Perhaps all mothers feel that.

I chat with my husband later, to tell him the news. I know—I hear—through the screen, that he is concerned, but not as paranoid. He is a man, and has known a lot more pain. My child’s first few tumbles will not be the last ones—especially, not if he is anything like his adventurous father.

And so life carries on. One day after the next, one tumble after the next, more tears, more hugs, more getting back up again and facing another day. More knowing that nothing in the world can ever compare to the immense love a parent has for their child.

And no feeling will be better than knowing that child is home, safe and sound.

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