It’s 11:52am on a Wednesday. The weather is cloudy and my 2 year old side kick and I need to kill an hour before nap-time. Down the street to the library we go.
We visit here about once a week. His favorite space in the children’s play area is the “garage”. It’s complete with a germ infested steering wheel- adored by every snotty nosed toddler who crosses its path. His 2 year old soul couldn’t be happier. As he leaps across the library to hang in his favorite spot, I take my own on a cozy bench nearby.
And there he sits. My warrior. Once fragile, born too sick and too soon. A brave little being who fought for 97 days before he could come home. And no one in the room knows but he and I. Moments such as these take my breath away- the enormity of it. To say I’ve never shed a tear during one of them would be a lie.
We’re normal. He’s ornery and I’m tired. The messy, imperfect, playing in public, kind of normal. We both worked hard to be here.
I used to feel excruciatingly uncomfortable in a setting such a this. The other mothers, over in the corner chatting and at ease, while their children played. Blissfully unaware of my world or the knot in my stomach put there by the potential risk I was taking by allowing my child to be there that day. Post NICU discharge, the world for us was a very unsafe and scary place. It was one full of sanitizer, isolation, the ever constant explanations to those around us who didn’t “get it”, and the exhausting awkwardness of telling strangers not to get too close.
Although that’s behind us now, it laid a foundation for the way I parent, the way I see the world, and a unique layer of awareness. I’m grateful to be free of it for moments like this, when my babe can be like all the others. The lightness of it is magnificent- Just like he is.