I’m pretty crazy about my kids these days. (It’s also pretty crazy raising them sometimes.) As they grow I have to try very hard to temper my desire for them to choose what is right with a loving acceptance of who they are as individuals. Too much emphasis on “do’s and don’t's” gives too easily a impression that their actions are what matters more than what is in their hearts.
This is my oldest. She’s nine and where did that time go? Every cliche about kids growing up so fast has been borne out and I’m turning into one of those annoying “how the time flies” mothers. She’s a joy to have around; one of those kids who delights in surprising me by washing my windows or setting a pretty table, who started a “Jesus Loves Me” club with her friends and neverever is the first to end a hug.
Yesterday we were standing in church, singing one last song before the sermon, and I looked over and she was sitting in her seat. “Weird,” I thought, “She loves the singing. She would never sit…” and then I realized that she was wilting over the armrest and her eyes were closed. She had fainted.
I was fully on the opposite end of the row from her, and I just may have trampled my father- and mother-in-law (who were visiting from Saskatchewan) as I rushed to her side. Wade was in the sound room and must have seen her when I did, because he was there almost as quickly as I was, and he scooped up her completely limp body and carried her out to the foyer.
As he’s carrying her out (and causing a minor stir in our section of the church), I’m seeing her droop lower and lower in his arms and my first thought is sheer irritation, “Why doesn’t he lift her properly?” Funny that – my emotional response in an emergency always includes some crank.
Thankfully there are always a number of trained medical personnel in attendance. I sat with my girl, so white and limp (though responsive and conscious by that point) while her pulse was checked and juice and cool towels brought. It’s hard not to be the one doing something when your child is in need, but a mum’s gift is sometimes just our presence.
I think the fainting spell was a Sunday morning thing – a long period of standing, singing her lungs out, knees locked, and when she got woozy, she didn’t know what it signified. By Sunday School she was on her feet and ready to join her class, and when we left the church an hour later, she was in full gallop. We were talking about it later and realized that every time someone in this house faints, it’s a Sunday. Weird.
I was a little concerned that my girl would find the whole experience completely mortifying. My girls tend to shy away from the spotlight and this was about as attention-getting as it comes. Every few minutes someone would wander into the foyer, as she lay on the couch recovering, and ask if she was okay. Maybe it helped that her sister had fainted before her (last year after church!) and so it didn’t seem like such a big deal. Or maybe it’s just our family’s instinct for downplaying everything – we refuse to make a big deal of health issues – but she doesn’t seem emotionally scarred.
And I think, most of all, that I’m realizing more and more how important it is to be thankful. Being thankful is about now. It’s seeing what is good and savouring it. It’s not waiting for better, or wishing for what has been. It’s sitting on a couch beside a pale little girl and being thankful that I can be there, that love surrounds us, and that whatever comes next will be okay.