I recently spent some time with a nine year old girl, a child I would adopt as my own in a heartbeat if she didn’t already have a mother who loves her. In the course of our time together, she got something in her eye, some lotion or something. Doesn’t really matter what it was, it just stung.
So, there we were, away from home and my first aid kit, with nothing but a bottle of water and the clothes we were wearing. I did the thing that doesn’t really help and hurts almost as much as the stinging eye pain. I poured water in her eyes and wiped with my t-shirt. While she cried. And my heart broke.
This child, completely trusting, let me hurt her to help her, to induce tears to relieve the pain. And I’m standing there drawing all my limited strength not to break down in tears next to her. While she’s just begging me to make it stop, please make it stop.
Don’t panic. Keep calm and carry on. Whatever.
There is no pain so great as your heart breaking like this. I hurt a child. It was necessary in the emergency, and it was awful, just awful. I love her, and I hurt her.
The funny (terrible-wonderful) thing is, a few minutes later, she’s all better and back to her sunny, happy self. Like it never happened.
But it did happen. And I don’t know that I’ll ever quite recover from the experience. I don’t know that my heart is big enough or strong enough to do the kind of work it takes and to live with the kind of pain that comes with being someone’s mommy.
Seriously, how do you moms walk around with your heart out there all day, every day? You are my new heros. Because THAT? That takes guts.