Late last week, as we pulled up to an event center at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, I flashed back to the moment we arrived at a hospital more than seventeen years ago. I felt the same kind of excitement and fear now as I did back then, minus the Lamaze breathing.
“I have no idea what’s
about to happen.” I told Mike.
We’d been looking forward to seeing our son, but for most of the past six weeks, knowing he was safe and also not under our roof, what I’d been feeling mostly was relief. After a difficult year and excruciating last three months, we’d needed the respite.
That’s a hard feeling to
have about your child.
I was on a run one morning a little while ago and disturbed
a family of geese, two adults and about half a dozen goslings. They darted out
from their grassy spot on the canal bank and began crossing the road.
I passed and they settled again—right in the middle of the
road actually, a few of the babies plunking themselves down on the dappled
pavement. A car approached, slowly, and I kept running, figuring the geese would
get out of the way eventually.
Except they didn’t. I turned to see two more goslings had settled
onto the asphalt, the parents in no hurry to move them along. The woman in the stopped
car shrugged at me.
I returned and tried shooing the geese off to the side. The
mama closest to me hissed, so I squirted her with my bottle, and then aimed the
water at her brood, who finally decided it was time to stand and continue
crossing. Momma kept hissing as they all got to their feet and meandered off.
The woman in the car rolled forward and thanked me as she passed.
Stupid goose mom,
I thought. So focused on me, she can’t
see her whole family’s about to be squashed.
Then I realized how appropriate that metaphor was for me, in
light of the ass-kicking parenting has given us these past few weeks.
Today Jack texted me from school:
Could you pick me up? I had a panic attack in history and I just can’t do this today.
Ugh. Crap. I was in the middle of a run, and then I needed to shower, go to a meeting, go to another meeting, and then, well, work. Jack’s school is 30 minutes away, in good traffic. I didn’t have that kind of time.
And … crap. What did he mean: panic attack? Sure, he had enough going on to overwhelm a person. It could be finals, or the speech he’s supposed to have ready this weekend – four minutes translated into Danish and memorized for a youth exchange retreat. It could be something a friend or a teacher said to him. It could be the weight of the world. Or it could be everyday teenage angst.
I know a few people with very serious anxiety problems. Some who can’t sleep through the night, or speak to a crowd, or – I don’t know – navigate a car through traffic, depending upon the day. What if this episode was the start of something chronic and debilitating?