One moment I was considering how much house I could clean in the few minutes I had until they got home from gym class…
…when suddenly, in two seconds, everything changed.
My daughter fell off the balance beam at the gym. She told me later that she screamed as soon as she hit the floor and that she just knew her arm was broken. What we didn’t know at the time is that not one bone but both bones in her forearm had completely snapped in two. What used to be two bones was now four.
So I jumped back in the car, put on the hazard lights, and flew back to the gym to meet my husband who had just arrived. There is something horrifying about knowing your child is in pain and you can’t do anything to stop it. If I could have put her pain on me, I would have.
Suffice it to say it was a long night. The local ER sent us by ambulance to the very busy Children’s hospital downtown…and, because of an overload, the orthopedic specialist sent us back home with instructions to return in the early morning for surgery.
Despite the bad news that my daughter had a broken arm, the Lord carried us. I have so many praises it’s hard to put them all in a cohesive list, but, for His glory, I will try:
…I did not have a panic attack. Yes, I had the shakes when it was all over and we were home, but that was a side effect of all the adrenaline that kept me going through the ordeal. Perhaps for some of you this is not a praise, but believe me when I say that this in itself is a divine intervention of the tallest order. First of all, I had to ride in an ambulance. Backwards. This normally would have turned me completely green. And the nausea would have induced panic. But my daughter kept up a steady stream of nervous chattering which both put me at ease and even had me in stitches. She told the paramedic that her bed was very comfortable and she wondered why it was called a ‘stretcher’ since ‘stretcher’ seems more like a torture device!
…I did not freak out in the Children’s ER despite the large numbers of…well, sick children…and despite that fact that, of all the times to be OUT of hand cleaner, it was that night. I had no hand cleaner in my purse. I was in a germy hospital. My daughter had on a hospital gown and socks, and I had to help her in the germy bathroom. Yet I did not freak out. That, my friends, was one of those God things!
…My daughter’s biggest fear was that she was going to have to get a shot or an IV, or both. The tears started flowing in earnest when she thought that might actually become necessary. God answered that prayer by providing us with an anesthesiologist who used gas to sedate her rather than an IV.
…She did not have any complications from the anesthesia except for throwing up in the car on the way home. It’s ironic. I made my husband ride with her in the back seat because they told us some kids do get sick after receiving gas sedation. She made it fine almost all the way home. Then we stopped by Target to get her a movie. My husband ran in to get it…and while he was gone…she got sick. Of course! But I didn’t freak out and neither did she.
…She did not have to have invasive surgery! The surgeon was able to use the xray machine to help him set the fractures. Adults who get her kind of fractures need pins and plates; kids don’t need them!
…The cut on her arm was NOT due to bone poking through, which was a concern at first.
…This ordeal happened when my husband was IN town and not when he was out of town. I needed him with me; he needed me with him; our daughter needed us both.
…The ER nurse was a Christian who came to her and gently laid her hands on her and prayed over her…praying for quick healing and for pain relief. Her presence was a blessing; I watched my daughter’s face get brighter as this nice nurse prayed. I wish I knew her name so I could write her and let her know that her prayer for my daughter in the middle of that stressful time was the biggest blessing, and that her prayers for my daughter turned into peace for me.
…Today her pain is much better and her spirits are higher. The swelling in her hand was significant today, so I took her back in to the clinic where she received immediate relief when they loosened up the cast.
Unfortunately, despite all the praises and the awesome way God was was faithful to us, I let him, and myself, and my daughter down today. I must have had some stored up stress in me because I totally blew it this morning. Totally. I got angry. Said very hurtful things to my sweet girl. Said a bad word. Why? Because she smiled at me and I saw that her teeth, which had been perfectly straight one week ago — the result of braces that had just come off — were getting a gap in between them again! The whole tooth ordeal started because she had something called a “tongue thrust.” We’ve done the speech therapy route to correct that. When I saw the tiny gap, I freaked out. Man, I’d rather I freaked out in the hospital than today! I am ashamed. I accused her of not keeping her tongue in the right spot. I told her she might end up with an ugly mouth. I cried. Inwardly I yelled at God for putting all this — broken arm and a tongue thrust — on this sweet little girl. Outwardly I yelled at this same little girl. Who is this person saying these things? Oh Jesus, I am emotionally bankrupt and took it out verbally on my child! When actually, as my husband reminded me later as I relayed the story to him, her teeth probably moved a little because she hasn’t yet gotten her retainer. A fact I forgot.
One day last week, she compared me to a “sweet little snake.” Most of the time, she said, I am very sweet and loving. But sometimes, and she never knows when, I turn into a mean snake!
Okay, so she was trying to wiggle her way out of her own responsibility for not picking up her toys as I’d told her to do. But, you know, she wasn’t far off the mark. I do tend to get “snake-like” and hiss every now and then, shaming the very Christ who is in me. God is showing me a look at myself in the mirror, and I don’t like what I see. I am reading the book Shepharding a Child’s Heart and am learning that I have sooo much to learn to be a parent who nurtures the heart…who parents in ways that are Biblical and that mirror the way the Lord parents me.
I apologized to my daughter immediately, and she had the grace to forgive me. Now if I can just forgive myself! (Even as I write those words, I remind myself of the fact that it is an insult to the Lord to not forgive myself when Jesus died for my sake.) Forgiving myself has never been easy for me. But I will. I will take this experience and repent and praise God for daughters who forgive their mothers when they mess up and for mothers who forgive their daughters and for the Lord who forgives us both.
In two seconds, our lives changed. My sweet girl now has to learn to live left-handed — a task to which I was born to do — but her little right hand has been dominant since the day she was born. I’ve been stressed, but not panicked. I’ve seen vivid evidence of God’s presence and peace…yet I’ve thrown that to the wind and “lost it” anyway. My parents always used to tell me that making mistakes is not a bad thing as long as you learn from them. My daughter has learned to follow her coach’s instructions about where her hands should be when she’s on the balance beam. I have learned to hold. my. tongue. when I feel the frustrations crushing in on me. It would be better for me to take a stroll around the back yard with God. Give HIM my burdens. Then His patience will flow into me. Hopefully.
Thank you, Lord, that I’m not “done” yet! You aren’t finished with me. May somehow, in some way, this journey my daughter must now take will glorify you. I want the experience to be one that is like a giant beacon pointing to Christ. You will be the one to help her with her own impatience at the inconveniences of being one-armed for awhile. You will be the one to cultivate character qualities in her in ways that I can’t even begin to try. You, Lord, will be the one to give her confidence and to help her find the bright side of the rainbow no matter what…in fact, you are already doing that! When she realized she could only play piano with her left hand, she mentioned that she has needed more work on that hand anyway! You will be the one to mold her heart and her perceptions so that her experience in a cast will help shape the woman you have created her to be. I put my trust in You. And I can’t thank you enough for your faithfulness and your peace…no matter what each moment brings.