Throughout my whole pregnancy, though I was elated to be starting my family, I was nervous about what type of parent I was going to be? Was I going to be a pushover? Was I going to be a dictator? Was I going to be somewhere in the middle? And as Abby is just 4 months old, I’m still trying to figure this stuff out. It dawned on me one day, though. Sucking out boogies for Abby has become the ultimate lesson in parenthood.
To give some background first…We had a rough start to Abby’s life. She was born with a partial vocal cord paralysis and had to spend the first 10 days of life in a children’s hospital. They poked. They prodded. They ran tests. They put her under anesthesia. They put a feeding tube in. And every time these things happened, I had to leave the room. I couldn’t be there for her. I felt like an awful parent, but I didn’t want to start crying again. I would just say to myself, “This isn’t what my dreams of having a baby was supposed to be like.”
So when we got to bring Abby home, after finding out that the vocal cord paralysis would heal on its own, I would cringe every time she cried. Because, well, the thing with her vocal cords caused a not so natural sound to come out. I still wanted to cry. I was constantly handing her off to my husband and had thoughts that I wasn’t going to be a good mother. But then, she got a boogie in her nose and that changed everything.
I was afraid at first to use the bulb syringe to suck it out, so I let my husband give it a try. Abby hated it. She would turn bright red and scream and that awful noise would come again. Slowly, though, I decided it was time for me to wage war with the boogies, and slowly that awful noise went away. But when Abby started producing tears with her cries, it just broke my heart and I would give up. I knew, though, deep down that I had to get back in there.
One day, it just hit me. I realized that I was no longer getting frustrated with her cries. I knew my job was to get her breathe easier, even though she didn’t like the way I was going about helping her out. I knew in the long run she would be better for it. I knew in the long run she would learn how to forgive me.
This is the type of parent I am going to be. I will not give in when she is 5 years old and starts crying because I won’t give her another cookie. I will not give in when she is 13 and starts crying because I’ve grounded her for staying at a friend’s house too late. I will not give in when she is 17 and starts crying because I’ve taken away her car keys when she’s lost focus on school. I will not give in.
And this is because that’s how much I love her. I want her to grow up to be a responsible, caring, all-around good person. And there is no way for this to happen if I just give in.
Of course after I am done sucking out the boogies, I rock Abby and sweetly talk to her in order to stop those tears from streaming down her face. Right now she has no clue what I’m saying, but the smile she gives me when the tears dry up lets me know she can feel comfort from me. This is because I love her to the depths that only a mother can know.
So when she wipes away those tears at 5 and at 13 and at 17, I will be there for her. To talk to her about why I’ve made the decisions I have. To help her understand that I’m not doing this “to” her or “for” her, but that I am with her. I’m going to be somewhere in the middle coaching her, supporting her, and not giving in.