By Heather O.
Last night (or, rather, this morning) my daughter woke up screaming for me with a terrified and pathetic wail. I rushed into her room, and picked her up. She continued to sob, and wrapped her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist. I shushed her, told her “Mommy’s here, you’re okay” and carried her back to my bed with me. I tucked her under my arm, and felt her relax as she pressed her little body into mine. I stroked her hair until she finally fell asleep.
By and large, my kids do okay. My son is loving school, and has good friends. But there are the days when he comes crying because his best friend was mean to him, or he felt left out by the pack of boys in the neighborhood, or because his teacher was unfair. These are all things that are a normal part of growing up, the difficulties of navigating through a world that isn’t always friendly. And no matter how hard we work to keep our families strong and happy, our children are going to get hurt by something or somebody somewhere. It’s part of the mortal experience.
But I can’t pick up my son and have him wrap his body around me like a monkey and stroke his hair to tell him everything is going to be okay. I can guide him, I can advise him, I can listen to him, I can hug him and tell him how much I love him and how special he is. But learning how to get through this world is a part of living in it, and our children have to get through it, one way or another. And when I see my strong, confident, smart, social son struggle, I worry even more how my shy, quiet, sensitive daughter will manage.
After she fell asleep, my daughter occasionally stirred, whimpering. She would twist her body until she found me, and would relax again when she felt my hand or my back. Just touching me was enough to reassure her that the monsters she faced in her dreams had no power over her.
So bring on the nightmares at 4am. My mommy powers are still strong enough for those kinds of demons. And if anybody knows how to use mommy powers to fight the rest of the demons our children have to face, I’d love to hear about it.
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