But it could be any day of the week when you have been anchored inside a hospital room for a week.
Days blend together with dull and shapeless order. Uncertainty drains you in incomparable ways. Time slips away. Bad food. Worse lighting. Sleepless nights. Anxiety spiking. Enough worry to strip all motivation and focus from the hours that typically carve your day.
I’m behind on everything at the moment … for unfortunate reason.
Leon, my second oldest son, has been battling an infection from a femur break that reached the bone. When I left for London he was in good shape, entering his fourth week of healing from a dirt bike accident over spring break. He crashed with friends in a remote area (far from cell reception) and had to be airlifted to a local hospital on the one (and only) occasion both his parents were out of state.
Broken bones are something we have come to expect with four boys. Over the years, I’ve had no choice but to learn how to exist in a fixed state of anxiety — fretting that every phone call that comes in (whenever I’m away) is bringing news of some new injury. I am never not on edge, worrying about the things I cannot control. But I have learned to push through it. One boy surfs —sometimes in turbulent conditions, occasionally alongside sharks. Another one skates and has a list of rotating injuries/scars to show for it. Last time we were in England, if you recall, Arlo fell on a nail at a skatepark and sliced the bottom half of his ear nearly off. We were at tea when we got the call that led to a frantic cab ride in jammed traffic to pick him up from the curb, dazed and bloodied, and drive him to the ER where they swiftly sewed together a split earlobe and sent us away with a new scar for a souvenir.
Another time, my youngest slipped on a rock at a remote beach and sliced his chin wide open and sent me on a frantic hunt along a windy road in search of the ER with ragged cell service guiding and misguiding me.
Too many peaceful afternoons have been shattered by emergency. I've lost count of how many casts, splints, stitches, and sprains we've collected under this roof because the cycle is never-ending. They say raising boys is not for the faint of heart. And that is true. It's been the hardest part of motherhood for me because my heart, by nature, is intrinsically faint.
This time, the news came from Mike — recounting the horror of watching a pool of blood pouring out of Leon's cast in the middle of the day as he was getting him up to sit in the sun before schoolwork.
Unexplained blood loss.
An ER trip.
And more tests.
Two pints of blood.
Infection to the bone.
Slipped hardware (thanks to a rigid cast rubbing against exposed pins) invited infection to his body that went unseen beneath a massive plaster shield. The nurses assured me the infection wasn't life-threatening, but the touch-and-go between communications (with gapped time zones while I was overseas) over three days stressed me beyond words, even knowing Mike was by his side consistently. Leon was good that first week, he was expected home in a couple of days, so I was not overly concerned - but like anything medical, that can change instantly. He suffered some unexpected setbacks once I was home so this past week has been rough and stress-filled. Guilt, like cement, is stacking bricks in my heart. Traveling as often as I do now, guilt has become a steady factor in my life (which pairs well with anxiety) and feels impossible to escape. For the past 15 years, I have been a stay-at-home mom, on hand for every award, class party, field trip, playdate, and illness. Mike, sometimes working two or three jobs, missed out on a lot of that. Recently, our roles have shifted. So that I work and travel now and Mike is home with the boys for the first time in his. life. The dynamics in this transition are still new and shaky. We are doing our best. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
What I do know, is that a working mother is judged harshly by a society that expects they should be everything all at once, whereas men are granted an unexpired generational pass that excuses them from being scrutinized by the same (unjust) expectations.
A friend of mine sent me a screenshot yesterday of some ruthless woman on a hate site saying I deserve what is happening to Leon because I was away covering the coronation instead of home where I belong. 22 other women liked it. Painting me like a rudderless teenage party girl, and not a writer, on a mission, who supports her family by framing stories independently as she sees them fit.
A man on a business trip is a man on a business trip.
A woman on a business trip is a selfish mother.
Some hypocrisies are slow to evolve.
Regardless, the fact is it is hard to work when parted by fear. I am slow to regain that drive. I have been with Leon every day since I've been home, while he is recovering from his fourth surgery (hopefully his last) to scrape the remaining infection from the tissue in his left thigh. The good news is his inflammatory levels continue to drop - infection is responding well to antibiotics, and his signature optimism is slowly returning. If everything goes as planned, he will be home this week for a long road of healing -starting at square one with the bone fusing complicated by infection. The way he misses school is the most heartbreaking of all. Nothing is worse than feeling helpless to your child’s pain and discontent. I want him back in school too.
In the meantime, I wanted to swing by and thank you all for your continued patience, prayers, and support. We appreciate it so much. I look forward to returning with brash tales of British gossip (a lengthy London recap) and everything else indulgent and weird that has piled up on my radar amidst my absence.
I will be back to a regular posting schedule when Leon is home and healing steadily so that he is back on that bike, scaring me all over again.
With love and thanks,
I have given up prayers so many times here in Maine this past week - and will continue. For the awful haters... I'm actually going to add some prayers for them too - to heal their black hearts.
We Muslims say: "Paradise is at the feet of the mothers." Your dedication to your family is living proof of that.
Leon has my prayers for a quick recovery.