Wednesday, November 16, 2011
While I have suffered small bouts of guilt over what I could have done differently and perhaps avoided him having had to go under the knife, I know that is futile. The aftermath, though, is where my real failings have become apparent.
After the whirlwind admittance to South East Georgia Regional Medical Center, the angst of inserting the IV (Kevin is not really wild about being pricked with needles of any sort) and beginning the antibiotics, the long wait for the imaging folks to have an opening to do an MRI, and then the waiting to hear if surgery would happen later in the evening or the next morning (all while Kevin is starving and he's hoping he hasn't NOT eaten all day for nothing), my emotions began to wear thin but Kevin was like a rock, completely unflappable and joking with everyone right up to and including the anesthesiologist.
Kathy and Lauren Lee were God-sents to me and stayed with me all though the pre-op, the surgery, and waiting in the regular room for Kevin to return from recovery. Really and truly, without them I might have been a puddle on the floor by 10pm in a waiting room that had long been abandoned by everyone but the janitor.
I spent the night in the hospital bed next to Kevin and almost felt like I'd slept a few hours when the morning rolled around. I dutifully waited for the doctors to make their rounds and then slipped home to take a shower while Kevin rested. I returned to the hospital and later in the afternoon, since Kevin had several visitors, I decided to slip home and get Victoria. After she was able to spend some time with her brother, I returned home to get Hannah, who was staying with Caitlyn. About 4pm, Hannah and I stepped out of the room. I planned to bring Hannah home and make sure things were under control at the house when a nurse stopped me and said, "Are you leaving him alone." I sort of nodded and laughed nervously...wondering why she was asking me that. She proceeded to tell me that pediatric patients can't be left alone without notifying the nursing staff.
Oh...I confess it had never crossed my mind that a kid who had just returned from backpacking Europe without me might not be safe to leave alone in a hospital bed with a nurse's call button at his finger tips. Now I understand the rule, mind you. It just honestly never occurred to me that it might apply to Kevin.
And then today I was again reminded of how I have so completely abandoned my maternal duties in regard to my son. Kevin has to go to physical therapy every other day to put is elbow in a whirlpool that swirls around some kind of solution to clean the wound and for the nurse/therapist to change the packing and redress the wound. The first day I went and sat in the lobby for the duration of the appointment...all 20 minutes. The next appointment he attended by himself because it seemed pointless for me to sit in the crowded lobby and listen to the country music station when he's perfectly capable of driving himself. But today he again went by himself and was told that because he is a minor, he had to have a parent in attendance or he couldn't be treated.
Gee whiz. I do suppose he could pass out while puts his elbow in the stainless steel tub of luke warm water, or peeling the bandage off might cause him black out; but couldn't they just call me if that happens. I'm pretty sure the billing department has my number. Honest to Pete it never occurred to me that I would have to be present for him to have the Band-aid changed.
I was afraid the Europe trip would change Kevin into this independent, self-sufficient man who no longer needed his mom (much). The truth is, Kevin was already those things before he left. Apparently it was ME who needed the Europe trip and his long absence for that reality to be solidified in my heart. Now, if only the rest of society could grasp the same concept, I wouldn't have to feel like such a failure for allowing him tend to his own business. Thankfully he turns eighteen in a couple of weeks and the rest of the world will see him as the responsible young man that he is.
Okay...so I may not receive any Mother-of-the-Year votes, but neither will I ever be accused of being a helicopter parent.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
I have marveled that my son had the determination and assertiveness to make the trip happen. I can even begin to think that Kevin has done something extraordinary, something unique among his peer group. I can also begin to pat myself on the back that I even LET this kid wander through Europe at seventeen years of age.
Then, in the midst of one of my self-congratulatory moments, it hit me that I'm not unique at all. I'm not that brave. My kid has not done something that hundreds of eighteen year olds have never done before. And I'm not talking about studying abroad.
Whole generations of young men have gone off to explore Europe. But they didn't fly into London on a commercial jet; they arrived on a transport ship. They didn't have a debit card in their pocket, but dog tags dangling from their neck. Yes, there's been plenty of young American men tour Europe - compliments of WW I and WW II. And for everyone of those boys, there was a mother back at home sending him off and wondering when and if he would ever return.
That realization made me doubly thankful to have my son home and grateful to live at a time in history when my child can freely travel Europe, even those countries that I find slightly mysterious (think Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia - now the Czech Republic and Slovakia). I'm not blind to the unrest in the world, but I'm also not overlooking the blessing it is to have a son who came home from Europe on his timetable and not the schedule of the US Army.
As we approach Veteran's Day on Monday, I'm thankful for those who currently serve and have served our country. It's their devotion that has paved the way for my children to experience a world with a freedom few people in history have ever known.