On Friday when I went to get the mail (and have I mentioned this is one of my favorite things to do? Even when it's just junk mail, I love getting the mail. Because sometimes you get those "perfect mail days" when it's all brown paper package surprises and eBay purchases and Anthropologie catalogues and no bills at all! Anyway.) there was a black crow sitting on the mail box. I'm not superstitious but I've heard that's a sign of bad things to come. Which got me thinking about how life has been so great lately with mothering and our business and every little thing. Which made me wonder: When's this luck gonna shift? Because it always does. And the floods come and it feels like it's never going to stop but it does. It may sound pessimistic but I just like to keep it real.
It shifted the next day.
I was getting ready to go out for a perfect night with my boys: Lebanese dinner at Papa Hassans and Cherry on Top frozen yogurt bar for dessert, in charming old town Orange. It's one of our favorite things to do on a Saturday night after a family adventure and a nap. I'd given the tweezers out of my make-up bag to Jude so he could go "fix things". I was in the bedroom and Rhys was in our living room with Jude, when I heard a loud zapping sound and then screaming. All of our electricity had gone out and I ran into the front room where Rhys had scooped Jude up, ran towards the bathroom and yelled "He just electrocuted himself!" He had stuck the tweezers into the one solitary outlet that didn't have a plastic safety cover. I think I took it off to vacuum and left it off, but can't remember, it's just always been covered. I've not been one to take First Aid or CPR classes, I just don't have that preparation mentality. I chalk that up to having to pack a backpack in constant anticipation of The Big One, an earthquake that my apocolyptic, disaster-minded dad was convinced would be ending the world. And so many other things I lived in fear of, but that's a heavy post for another day. So I had no idea what to do but grab my son and run his burned fingers under cold water. Without the internet we couldn't look up the proper instant care of electrical burns so Rhys ran around trying to locate my cell phone to call the pediatrician. Who had to call us back, and by that time we were already in the car on the way to the ER with a tiny hand in a bucket of ice water. He screamed at the top of his lungs until his hand was numb, and then was perfectly happy with his Tootsie Roll pop in the other hand.
The ER experience was typical... slow, inept, frustrating, etc... so I'm not going to get into that. I'll just note that it took 2 nurses and an hour to get one EKG reading. And my child was sitting completely still, watching Finding Nemo on our portable DVD player. Heaven help them with a normal squirmy 2 year old. The hardest part was when they took the ice bucket away and dressed his third degree burns on three fingers. I've never heard Jude scream and cry the way he did then, and I can't get the image or sound out of my head. It just won't go away. It was also tough to have a social worker come and interview Rhys and I and inform us that since this was a "preventable accident", we should be expecting a visit from Child Protective Services. Now I know just what it feels like when your child is kidnapped and you are on the suspect list.
We came home to a dark house. Rhys rewired the outlet and got the electricity back on but our computer was fried. It was on the fritz but like an old Buick, we'd figured out how to jiggle it around a bit to get it to hang on for a whole year longer. It's amazing how far away the whole world feels when you are disconnected from the internet.
This isn't something that I ever expected to happen to Jude. He's such a careful little guy and he's so clingy that I'm almost always 2 inches away from him anyway. He doesn't take risks. He holds onto the stair rail every time because he wants to, not because I tell him to. After I unload him from the car he inevitably says "Hold my hand!" before we even get near a street. Accidents and injuries have been almost non-existent. But he does like to fix things with tools he finds around our house, and this one just happened to be made of metal. And the thing he decided to fix just happened to be a live electrical outlet. He's going to be fine, and it could have been so much worse. So I should focus on that. I know. I've gotten lots of "You guys really got lucky with this." And while I completely know what they mean, lucky is not something I feel right now. Rhys said there was a huge explosion with a shower of sparks when the incident happened, so the fact that nothing but a tiny dot in our carpet caught on fire will have to be our silver lining. That, and Jude will be completely healed in about two weeks and walked away with only small finger burns. Nothing that a little medication, sugar, and Blues Clues can't fix.
So here I sit, 4 pounds lighter than I was on Saturday due to stress and forgetting to eat and lugging the 30 lb love of my life around because I couldn't bear to let go of him for a second (although I have plenty of fat reserves from the pregnancy, I'm certainly not wasting away over here). We just got back from the follow-up appointment at a burn unit. Rhys went to work and I redressed Jude's burns and put the tiny mesh glove on his hand for the second time. And now he's napping peacefully, all is calm and quiet, and I don't know how I'm going to do this. For the next two weeks, and for the rest of my life. He's been so brave, so full of toddler gratitude, so patient, so good. I feel like I don't deserve it. He even said "Thanks for helping with my burns, Mama" and at one point came up with "Don't worry!" out of nowhere, in the most adorable toddler tone. How is he smarter than me in a situation like this? How is he not crying as much as I am? I hold it together until he's no longer around and then I just crumble. My baby has third degree burns and I feel like I'll never be able to relax as a mother again. I try so hard to be The Calm Mom and feel like I've been succeeding... and with Jude's gentle temperment it hasn't been difficult. Not a lot of "nos" just for the sake of saying no, lots of room to experiment and explore, surprisingly relaxed. But now I'd like to be substituted out of this game, thank you. I just can't do it, it's too hard. I'm a control freak idealist with no religion, how am I supposed to handle this? I love this tiny human so much it hurts, even when nothing is wrong there is an ever-present aching, because I know life brings ups and downs and I need them all to be ups for this guy. It feels like a part of my heart has walked off on two little legs and I'm fiercely trying to protect it but I just can't. It's out there, wandering free. It's gonna have a mind of it's own. It's going to have a drivers license someday and could get on a motorcycle anytime he wants. And hey, guess what?! I'm making another extension of myself right this minute, who'll be born at the end of July and divide every fiber of my aching love into even smaller pieces, and who will be going out on dates that extend way past her curfew and will be driven around by her boyfriend's race car convertible.
How do I do this.