The Hazards of Motherhood
Everything is better after sleep
by Janice Lynch Schuster
Snow frenzies my five-year-old, who is in his snow pants before the first flakes melt. With his dog, Frosty, he cavorts in the leaves and sails down the wave slide. The leaves become just slippery enough for a sled. By dark, there is an inch of snow and mud, and I am worried about Ian out there alone on our hill. For a decade now, the family has sledded into the woods, sideswiping a tree to which my husband mounts an old mattress, and hurtling to the small stream. The one and only rule is to bale before you hit a tree. It is a risky business.
So, too, is walking. I send Aly, almost 13, out to play with Ian. From the kitchen, I hear them on the deck. Shovels scrape through the ice. Things drag back and forth. In the past, the kids have built a launch pad to shoot from the deck, over the septic system lid and into the woods. Had Robert Frost lived here, he would never have experienced a quiet stopping by woods. A few happy yelps echo, and then the inevitable tears.
Ian gets in first, meeting me in the hallway where I have rushed to make sure both of them are still breathing. He tells me that Aly is hurt; just behind him, she comes in, holding her left wrist with her other hand and crying. She has slipped on an icy patch and landed flat out on her hands.
She is my drama queen, and she can sob, wail and create general hysteria over things as simple as losing the remote control or having to put away laundry. The quiet tears that came with the wrist injury seemed out of character. If it were broken, I thought, she’d have still been out in the driveway, screaming bloody murder. Instead, she simply wept, “It hurts, it hurts.”
I followed my instincts and the instructions of a hotline nurse: Put ice on the injury. Pump her up with Motrin and Tylenol. Watch the wrist for bruising or sudden swelling.
In the end, I gave her two Benadryl and told her to get some sleep. Everything seems better after sleep, I say. But it isn’t. In the morning, she is still crying, and X-rays confirm a buckle fracture in her left wrist.
“At least it isn’t broken,” she says.
As we wait in the overflowing offices of the orthopedic surgeon, we watch patient after patient being wrapped up by a cheery crew of casting experts.
At the next bench, a young teenager sits with his mother. The surgeon explains the two fractures in the boy’s ankle, and the necessary casting, the recovery. The mother and boy laugh.
“She told me if I got some sleep, I’d feel better,” he says.
“I didn’t know it was broken!” she responds. “I thought it was just a sprain!”
“So she told me to sleep!” he says again, laughing.
Next to me, Aly smiles. I laugh.
Mother of six, bellydancer, freelance writer and occasional Bay Weekly contributor, Janice Lynch Schuster reflects from Edgewater.