I am five years old. Replace five with three, four, six, eight, twelve… This is a memory replayed many times throughout my childhood. It is the middle of the night and I am standing on the righthand side of my parents’ bed. My dad’s side. I’m barefoot, curling my toes into the carpet, clutching my blankie to my face. I don’t want to wake them up, but I need them. Chronic ear infections make this a common reoccurrence. Awoken in the night by the drumming in my ears-the unstoppable pain. I hold off as long as I can before the pain is unbearable. That’s when I tiptoe in and just stand there waiting. Waiting for them to sense my presence.
It always felt like I stood there forever. Looking back on it now, perhaps it was a few minutes. I remember letting out soft sniffles…followed by a slight cough. Eventually they would feel me there. One of their heads would lift and then the sobs would come.
Next we would be in the kitchen. My dad fumbling with his otoscope, the light never charged when we needed it. So my dad would plug it in and we’d wait long enough for him to catch a spot of light to see just how bad the infection was this time. Meds were given and I was tucked back into bed until morning and the pain returned…further plans could be made.
These are the memories that get me out of bed in the middle of the night. Up the stairs to fetch a tissue for a stuffy nose, a bowl to catch the vomit, my hands to rub the little backs and reassure them that this too shall pass.
7 thoughts on “Needed”
“I don’t want to wake them up, but I need them” – these words threw me back to my parent’s bedside – my toes weren’t curled in the carpet but against the cold hardwood floor. I also remember, being afraid to get out of bed and calling ever so softly “Mommm” waiting for her to come.” Thanks for the flashback!
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So very vivid; how I love going back in time with memoir! What strikes me most is waiting for your parents to “feel you there.” A knowing. A safety. A legacy of love passed on, a strength in the dark nights now when you’re the comforter.
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You beautifully captured this memory (toes curled into carpet, blanket clutched) and all its emotional resonance and then spun it full circle into the present. Well done!
My goodness, it felt as if I was listening to my own daughter, write 🙂
This memory draws me in right away. I have very similar memories from my childhood…sometimes even just from a bad dream. This would be a great mentor to use with students too. Simple but very powerful.
It’s amazing how the memories we have of kindness from our own childhood can impact the way we parent.
You’re a good mama.
I could picture you standing there, needing but not wanting to be needing, tired of the pain. And then the memory informing your work as a care-giving mother…precious and priceless.