A New Understanding.

Yesterday, Victoria got her first shots. Three of them – two in her legs, and one in her little arm. That might not sound like a big deal, but let me tell you, it was 100 Percent Awful.

The second the first needle pushed in, she started howling. As the seconds ticked by, her screams escalated until they reached ear splitting levels. By the time all was said and done, she was literally throwing herself around the table, trying to get away.

And me? I wasn’t screaming, but I wanted to. In fact, it was all I could do not to punch the nurse in the face. Sure, she was just doing her job, but she was hurting my baby. And there was nothing I could do about it.

Nothing but be there for her when it was all over, hugging her and kissing her until the hurt faded away. Her very first hurt.

As I hid my own tears in her soft hair, a thought struck me. My own mom must have once felt this pain. She must have had to wrestle with the knowledge that the world was going to hurt me, over and over again, and she was helpless to stop it.

Right now, I find that difficult to think about. I don’t want to imagine how tough it will be to stay strong when Tori comes home scraped up and bleeding from a fall. Or sobbing because some kid stomped on her feelings. Or crushed because a silly boy broke her heart.

But it will happen. And all I’ll be able to do is stand by, silently hurting, and waiting for the moment I can gather her up to soothe the pain away – just like my mom did (and still does) for me.

As that realization flooded my consciousness, I wanted to rush to the phone to call my mom. To apologize (for the many, many times I’ve been positively rotten to her),  thank her (for loving me anyway), and tell her how much I love her.

I didn’t know. I didn’t understand how the love of a child overwhelms you, wrapping around the core of your being. How important it becomes to keep that little person safe from all harm, at all costs. How very much you want to hold her tight, forever and ever and ever.

But, by my mom’s (and dad’s) example, I know that as hard as it might be, I’ll have to let her out in the world. Let her chance getting stomped on, hurt and betrayed. To do things that seem inordinately risky – even if that means giving permission to go to a very recently communist country two months after a military coup (I know, crazy, right? But true.).

Because that’s how she’ll learn and grow to be the person she deserves to be. That’s the gift my parents gave me – and I had no idea how much it must have cost them to do it.

So, Mom, Dad? Thank you. Thank you for letting me…be me. And for being there to pick me up whenever being me turned out to be a very bad thing indeed. I love you both.

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