Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Like No Other

Among the items consistently left off of the Things that will forever change after you become a parent list: A kind of helplessness that steals your very breath

I feel restless, my hands desperate to help, I search her face for some sign, some indication of what I can do, but there is nothing. I sit with her, those wide blue eyes, glassy and still, her cheeks burning with fever, the delicate skin marred by flurries of angry looking rash. Her soft ringlets lay flat, sticking in clammy swirls along her brow. She has no appetite to speak of, crying softly and then, worse, slipping into silence and drifting far away, unable to sleep, but too weary to play.

We are trapped, she and I, each wanting to escape this day, with its gloomy sky, but we cannot. Avery sleeps in her crib, her little arm, dimpled elbow high in the air, cradle her baby doll, offering a kind of comfort and safety I cannot for Briar. I smile despite my heavy heart as Avery wiggles her bottom and looses a dreamy giggle from her perfect little mouth. Briar whimpers,

"What is it baby, what'cha need?"

"Can you cuddle with me?"

"Of course I can baby girl, of course I can." I cannot clamber into her bed fast enough. I wrap my arm around her as she snakes her own beneath my neck, I kiss her face. It only lasts a moment before she turns, quietly sobbing.

"So hot mama. I'm so hot." She kicks the covers off and pushes her pillow away. My brow furrows and I wish for the wisdom to understand what to do.

"Mama, will you cuddle with me? Can you hold me like a baby?"

I nod, choking back the tears that threaten to fall. This is but a glimmer of what is ahead, of broken hearts and dashed hopes, of gang ups on the play ground and missed chances on the field, of times that I can do no more than stand near, ready to catch her, to answer a cry for help, but mostly to let her find her way. Helplessness. I realize it is part of the bargain, the price to be paid for the superpower of magically fixing ripped pages, of turning mistakes into even-betters, but that is little solace today. I try to cuddle from a distance, letting her know I am within her reach, but she cannot be still.

Avery moans in the other room. The phone rings. My tears fall in earnest as I absentmindedly rub Briar's back, the bumps of her spine seeming more pronounced than usual, more fragile, and then,


"Yeah sweetie?"

"Mama, I love you. Thank you for taking care of me."

"Of course baby, it's my favorite thing to do."

And then she closed her eyes. She was asleep. I sat watching her sleep, the rhythm of her breathing even, the color on her face mellowing with the rise and fall of her chest. I closed my eyes as the panic that had gripped me all morning loosened its grip ever so slightly, and I said thanks.

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Joy, of course said...

Ya know, you are right, it does happen more frequently as they get older, that feeling of helplessnes. Of wanting to fix it an not being able to, but I don't think it ever gets worse than seeing your child in physical pain and not being able to help. I am glad she was able to sleep. You were there for her, and is what's important.

Colleen said...

Poor little sweetie. So sorry she's not feeling well. You have just described the mommy helplessness feeling so well. You just wish you could make them all better. With a smooch and a snuggle. I often wish it was so easy. Hope she's feeling better soon.

Crystal said...

Poor little bug. I hope she sleeps through the night and feels better in the morning.
You are a good momma.

Gloria said...

Sorry to hear that she's sick. I hope she feels better soon. I guess every mom will experience this at some point, huh? Makes me want to have families of my own...but I need to be patient. Hope she gets well soon!

Pgoodness said...

Hope she's feeling better. My tears are falling, too, just knowing those same feelings. Hugs to you all.

flutter said...

oh Amanda your beautiful heart and your beautiful babies

Mrs. Incredible said...

she'll feel better each day. you're a good mom, I can read it!

Lara said...

damn, lady - you make me cry like no other. beautiful stuff, and so true. i know my mom has felt that helplessness a lot with me over the last year, as i'm sure you can imagine. it never really goes away, unfortunately.

In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Again, lovely.

BlogHer next year??

BetteJo said...

Oh poor Baby, poor Mama too. They just look so sweet and vulnerable - you just want to scoop them up and make it all better. If only it were that easy.

Jenn said...

I wish I were there to hold your hand and rub your back.

In spirit, I'm sitting there, and I'm fetching cold Vernor's for all.

And a margarita for you.

Mom of a munchkin said...

*sigh* this post almost made me cry. Cry for Briar, cry for you. When kids are sick it makes your heart sick. I hope everyone is better soon!

Mrs. Chicken said...

Thank you for taking care of me.

Staggering from heartbreak. Oof.

You are so very right about this. I feel it all the time.

Hope the wee one is on the mend sooner than soon.

chelle said...

awww hope she is feeling better!!

Whymommy said...


There is nothing as powerful as a mama's love.

Lovely post. I am so glad that she is feeling better today.

slouching mom said...

Oh, so touching. Lovely post.