Thursday, April 16, 2009


It may have been the saddest conversation I have ever heard. We were breakfasting in a hotel on the way to a speaking gig tomorrow in New Jersey and stayed overnight in a comfortable little spot. They serve a free breakfast and we went down to sample the buffet. As we were finishing, just a few minutes ago, I sat back in my wheelchair and took a hit of tea.

A couple came in, a few years younger than us, they looked incredibly tired. They sat at a table not far from us and spoke not a word to each other. They looked gray and wan. After they finished eating he said to she, 'Now?' She nodded as if it took every bit of energy to move. He pulled out a cell phone and punched in a number. Why people speak louder on the phone than in everyday life, I do not know, but they do. I heard him, everyone heard him.

"We thought we'd drop by and make sure your day gets off to a good start," he said after the hellos had been taken care of. There was a long pause and he said, "You don't want us to come by?" Again a long pause, "We just want to make sure ... ok, ok, ok.' Again he waited, his wife had eyes full of worry and hurt. "We'll just stay 15 minutes, maybe half an hour, we want to help." A long pause, everyone had stopped eating as a family drama of some kind played out before us ... "OK, we'll be there in a few minutes."

He hung up and his voice naturally lowered, I heard him explain to his wife that their daughter had been up till three in the morning, she was still extremely upset, she isn't up for much. "But we can come?" his wife asked.

"Yes, we can come," he said wiping tears from his eyes.

They got up to leave and as they walked by me I wanted to reach out and reassure them, odd that - I'm not even sure that reassuance is realistic, would be wanted or is appropriate, but I wanted to anyways.

Parenthood. How you all cope I will never fully understand. No matter what brand of kid you've got, that child will worry you all your days ... and maybe that's an ok way to spend all your days.


ntmjbmom said...

As I sat bolt upright in bed early this morning, after a nightmare about one of my children, I laid there thinking about this very thing.

Whether it's my son's brain cancer recurring..or my son with mental illness and how we will help him to navigate high school..and how he will survive in a world when he has little impulse control..or my eldest going off to college..or my 8 year old and how he will stand it if anything happens to his little brother and how I see the jagged edge of terror in his eyes from time to time.

Sometimes I really wonder what I got myself into! But I do love them all so..and parenthood has definitely made me more focused on what truly matters in life..a stronger person for all the struggles we have encountered..and more worried too..and I pray harder than ever.

I can't imagine not being a mom...but imagine it as being significantly less fact I find it hard to imagine what my childless friends spend their time worrying about! LOL


FridaWrites said...

So true!

CJ said...

I've read that having a child is like having your heart walking around in the world without any protection.

It is true. You learn these things after you become a parent.

I became a parent while my mother was dying of cancer. We spent my first Mother's Day together and her last.

She died when he was two months old.

I still did not know the depths of being a parent. What I did know was that I prayed for a son(rather than a daughter)due to my troubled relationship with my mother. G-d in His wisdom gave me one.

Nineteen years (and two sons later) I know that I have been a better parent than mine were.

However, I have come to the realization that they did the best they could with what they were given. There is no longer any bitterness or anger for what I cannot change.

Ashley's Mom said...

Dave, I have 4 children, 3 of whom have significant disabilities. And, I am a single parent. When I mentioned to one of my coworkers this week that I was thinking of adopting another little girl - a little girl that requires total assistance with everything in her life - my coworker said, "You've got to be kidding. You need to start taking some time for yourself."

I smiled and said, "This is for me - every bit as much as it is for the little girl."

Most of the people I know have a hard time understanding that my life is rich and full because of my children, and it is not something I want to ever escape from.

Ellen said...

Where in NJ? I enjoy your blog and would enjoy hearing you in person!

rickismom said...

As I always tell my lamaze students (who get heebie geebies when learning about forceps, fetal distress, and the like):

"You worry about them from the moment you become pregnant until the day that you die. Its part of the package."

Anonymous said...

Just reading "Beautiful Boy" a father's report on his son's methamphetamine addiction, recovery, relapse etc. A "perfect" child. Great book. I'll be at the conference in N.J.--vaguely related to my work.

theknapper said...

What a way to start your day!!?? Witnessing the heartbreak when you know your child isn't ok. hope the connection they made helped all of them. The way you described this moment brought me to tears.
I don't have children but am an auntie who has gone thru a version of this. Sending good thoughts out to them.

Susan said...

We had pre-schoolers in our home for 24 years straight by the time our youngest went off to kindergarten. Now the youngest is 18 and the grandchildren are coming fast and furious. When our kids were little they were a handful. As adults, they are a heartful. You're never "free". But then who would want to be?