Being a heart mommy can mean being perceived sometimes as a bit of a super mommy. I’m often told, “You’re so brave,” “You’re so strong” and “I don’t know how you cope with it all.” And while it’s true that I try to be brave and try to be strong, there have also been many times when I feel anything but brave or strong, and I’m not entirely sure how I cope with it all either.
I’m a heart mommy, but I’m not superhuman.
I don’t have a magical strength that I was endowed with the day I first heard the words, “There’s something wrong with the baby’s heart.” If you’d seen me shortly after handing my child to a surgeon for heart surgery, you wouldn’t think I was especially brave either.
Being in intensive care with a child recovering from heart surgery is like being on a rollercoaster. There were moments when I didn’t want to ride it, but I had no choice but to carry on, hold on tight and hope we would get to the end safely.
Being a heart mommy is exhausting, overwhelming and wonderful. The mixture of emotions sometimes feels so intense. Sometimes the emotions and thoughts whirl around in my head and it all feels too much. There have been times when I have felt almost unable to speak out of sheer exhaustion. There have been times when all I can do is focus on the next minute and take the next tiny step forward.
The reminder that this moment will pass isn’t always comforting. I know the challenging times won’t last forever and will one day be just a memory. But I’m terrified of the thought that one day maybe all of this will be a memory and nothing more. And so I cling to the present and learn to live in the moment.
The truth is I cope with the surgeries, the rollercoaster ride of intensive care, the exhaustion, the challenging moments and the day-to-day fear of the future because I have no choice. Without further heart surgery, my child won’t be able to survive into adulthood.
Sometimes I cry and sometimes I get upset and want to rebel against this hand that we have been dealt. I would give anything for my child’s heart to be perfectly formed. And then I take a deep breath and remember just how thankful I am to have her and how incredibly lucky we have been so far.
Sometimes I wonder where I will find the strength to take the next step, but somehow I always do.
Sometimes I’m thankful for what this journey has taught me, for the strength that I have found and for the faith that has been an anchor throughout the storms. I have been amazed at how joy can sometimes be found even in the difficult moments. I have learned to appreciate the little things and be thankful for them. Living in the moment is hard at times and a blessing at others.
I know how lucky I am to have my children and how different things could have been.
I’m a heart mommy, but I’m just an ordinary mom, too.
I can get upset with my children, and there are times when bedtime can’t come quickly enough. Being a heart mommy doesn’t make me a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination.
And when I feel overwhelmed by the demands that parenthood can bring, there’s also that underlying prickle of guilt and shame. I berate myself for my lack of gratitude. I know how lucky I am, and yet sometimes my actions don’t show it. But parenthood can be hard at times, and I’m only human.
At night I look at my sleeping children and am thankful for another day with them. I might not live up to my own ideal of parenthood, but my children at least know they’re loved and that’s what really matters. And I go downstairs and take a deep breath, feeling thankful for a moment of peace and quiet.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but for now I’m thankful for today. Another day with all the imperfections that family life brings. Another day of ordinary heart family life.
I’m a heart mommy, but I’m not superhuman.
I’m not amazingly brave or exceptionally strong. Nor do I have an extraordinary faith. I’m just an ordinary mommy, doing the best I can for my family and getting through each day as it comes.
Follow this journey on Little Hearts, Big Love.
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