This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!
I never thought I’d have kids. Because I am An Accidental Mother I didn’t have time to fully prepare for all the “joys” of motherhood. My childless friends warned me of the perils of parenthood – sleepless nights, watching Barney until I developed a permanent earworm, puking in the bed, puking on the floor, puking in my hands. My FWK (Friends With Kids) painted a beautiful picture of children who slept through the night, never cried, were toilet trained by two and smooth sailing until teen years.
My experience has been a blend of both joy and peril. Yes, there were sleepless nights. Yes, I held out my hands to my daughter, even as part of my brain screamed in horror (“What are you DOING?!!! She’s going to puke all over YOU!”). We also laughed together as she discovered the joys of butterflies and swings, puppy kisses and chocolate. She taught me to look at the world with new eyes, and to know when to hold tight, and when to let go (evidently you can’t ride a bike with mom holding tightly to the seat).
Nothing prepared us for Monday night. We’d had a busy weekend, and I was sure that our teen would start her spring break by sleeping in, but she was up with the sun. I wasn’t surprised when she mumbled “I am really tired”, and passed out. Shortly after my husband came home, she stood up, took a few steps across the room and collapsed. “Poor baby hit the wall.” I laughed, and put her on the bed. When I looked down at her, I froze. Her eyes were opened slightly, and she didn’t seem to be breathing. “Oh my god!” my husband yelled and ran for the phone. I gave her a quick breath, and was relieved to see her chest rise and fall in a regular rhythm. “Lauren!” I screamed, and slapped her across the face (so much for my CPR training). Her breathing and pulse were steady, but she refused to wake. Sirens blared outside, and my husband grabbed her and rushed her to the waiting ambulance. The next fifteen minutes were a blur of curious neighbors, first responders barking questions, and an image of my daughter laying limp in the back of the ambulance. Finally the EMT held a small device aloft – the display read “31”. “Ohhhhh.” The medical personnel sighed in unison. “What’s 31?” I asked. “Her blood sugar. She’ll be awake in a couple of minutes.”
My husband climbed into the ambulance and I followed them to the hospital, feeling guilty that I had laughed at her when she “hit the wall”. Somewhere on the ride, as promised, my daughter regained consciousness. By the time we got to the hospital, she was tired and confused, but awake. They ran a slew of tests, but the reason for her hypoglycemic episode remains a mystery. Her doctor believes it was a perfect storm of events, including fatigue, dehydration, and allergy meds. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter why. Coming so close to losing her put everything in perspective. In that moment I realized that I might not have planned on being a mother, but my daughter is the most important part of my messy, beautiful life.