I started driving to Grand Rapids everyday a little over a year ago. It’s interesting how much of a change it’s been since my almost 17 year commute to Kalamazoo. Looking back, I guess there was always this pull to have a job in Grand Rapids.
I have to assume that was largely because my mom worked up there and well, she was wicked successful. I’m glad my mom was able to show me how women can crush it in the workplace and still successfully navigate motherhood and all that comes along with it. I still haven’t figured it out but I might get there! And lucky her, she even had an office (with a door!).
It also could have been because our Saturday adventures usually took us that direction. Now, if you’re wondering how easily impressed I was as a child … adventure, to me, was a trip to Meijer on 54th street and, if we were lucky, to Woodland Mall. But also? It was anywhere but Hopkins (which I now love so put away your beating sticks).
Now truly, I love driving. I’m not that great at it depending on who you ask (remember, I moderate comments). I drive fast. I tend to drive aggressively (but i’m not angry, i’m literally just having fun). And I listen, sing and sometimes dance to music (quite loudly). But what I’ve learned in the past year is that I do not love being held up when I have somewhere to be (and that morning commuters on M6 really are the worst drivers in the history of the world). It’s crazy because I can be at a dead standstill in Chicago traffic for a weekend trip and it doesn’t bother me in the least but when I need to be at work, or conversely, want to be home? Get.Out.Of.My.Way.
But there have been a few occasions now when I’ve pulled up the dang Maps app and see the long red line that I just drove straight into and look for any way (literally, any way) to get around the mess. Sometimes, there are options. Others, I simply have to sit tight and crank the music louder (or truthfully, cruise Instagram) until I can get through it.
And so I shared the same with Connor this past Sunday. Oh man, that poor child. He came down with strep almost a month ago now. I’d gone to his football game and, after seeing him sitting on the bench just prior to the start, did the not cool mom thing and walked down to see what was up. His eyes welled and he said that he’d thrown up several times before the game and had started feeling feverish around lunch time. I honestly didn’t suspect strep because my symptoms were always relatable to a box of nails hanging out in my throat. He played about four or five plays that game but was wobbly and it was obvious he was not good.
The next morning we took him in to urgent care and they confirmed he was dealing with strep. Round 1. Oh, the same morning, I went in to urgent care and they told me thanks for playing but I had something viral, i.e. suck it up, MOM. It’s only relevant because the next Tuesday when we took Connor in to ER because he was having awful headaches, they said he had something viral. Good job, MOM. Sharing is caring, right?
At this point, we’re running up against our max for excused absences and the following week rolls around and I get the news that Connor is throwing up again. So now that I’m smarter … I just assume strep. We took him in Tuesday and yep, yep, it’s strep. This time, they decide to put him on a 10-day antibiotic. He’s running a temp and he looks about as good as I’m sure he felt.
Now, you need to know that CJ is used to living his best life. He is an excellent student. He did what he needed to do to keep up with homework but he was worried about missing class time and the actual instruction. He said, ‘mom, i’m not hearing the knowledge the teachers are sharing.’ I thought that was precious. I did remind him that he’s 13.5 years old and this period is a blip in the grand scheme and that he need.not.worry. He’s also the socially-ist of the social butterflies and now, his friends are getting worried. He missed almost all of his football game the day this whole nonsense took over, had the one the next week get canceled (which I was mildly relieved about) and, then finally, missed his last two games. I think I was more sad about that than him. And there were tears over being tired of being sick because he is a very healthy young man. Just keep him away from gluten.
On Sunday, I was hopeful he could do church with me. It had been a while for both of us and I wanted him to try and get out a little bit. He’d been dealing with some strange abdominal and back pain so I’d had him laying pretty low. As we were getting ready, I saw the tears again. He just wanted to feel better. I told him that, sometimes? The only option is through, not around. He couldn’t stop taking the antibiotics (which was the primary suspect for the pain he was experiencing) and there was really nothing else that we could give him outside of what was already being doled out on the regular. He was just going to have to bravely continue forward and know that God was with him. It reminded me of the verse in Psalm 23 that helps to paint a picture for hard times. David talks about the valley of darkness. I’ve read The Passion translation a while ago and officially fell in love with the whole chapter. Anyway, I noticed that 1) it doesn’t say ‘if,’ but ‘when’ and 2) that we are reminded God will lead us ‘through.’
Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near. (TPT) (emphasis mine)
I knew that it wasn’t a complete consolation because, for CJ, this is huge. It was causing him pain, both physically and emotionally. But I hoped that he could hear and receive the words because it’s just Truth. And that was really all I could think to give him in that moment. And frankly, that’s enough because, God.
When we got to Monday, we were both ready (BOTH.) for this to end. But when the morning rolled around, it was just obvious that he wasn’t improving so I called his doc again to get him in. Thankfully, they were able to confirm his strep was gone at the appointment. He didn’t have mono (that would have been hard to explain!) or kidney things or the flu or any number of other things they test for when they make you pee in a cup or stick a giant swab up into your brain. Man, I felt terrible for him with that one. The orders we got were basically to keep on keepin’ on with the antibiotics and to call them if symptoms worsened. They said to give it 48 hours.
Wednesday night was one of the most painful nights I’ve had as a mom. Connor was down nine pounds or so and, I have to be honest, he looked like a child with a very serious illness. I don’t say that to sound trite because I can’t know the pain of being in the midst of battling a serious illness with a child, but I’ve seen sick children. And this felt similar. Anyway, his face was gaunt and his skin color was off and I sat there and told him I wanted him to try to go to school the next day. I’m the most awful, right? I knew his pain was lessening and I also knew that I didn’t want him to start feeling like school was optional if he was turning a corner in general. I was at that point where I didn’t know what else to do but I remembered that sometimes, when we’re faced with hard things, we just have to go through. And there wasn’t any way around that. It still hurt me to know that he felt like I was pushing him in any direction while he was not feeling the greatest. But, I don’t regret it.
We talked Thursday morning and there were more tears. He definitely felt like I was not giving him a choice about school and I honestly kind of wasn’t. If he had still been in significant, or worse, pain, I wouldn’t have sent him. I also told him that there was no expectation for him to make it a whole day. If he got tired, he could call. But you know what my kid did? He made it all day. And he made it again on Friday. And I told him I was so, so proud of him. Because he got through it.
There will be times that we’re at the beginning of the red line or in the midst of an illness or (< insert your thing there), and there simply won’t be a way around. And even if there is a way around, it might not be what you need. In fact, it probably won’t be what you need the majority of the time. I considered some of the times that I did find alternate routes on the way in to work and, although they can be picturesque and I do love detours, I’ve also had it take quite a bit longer. Or I’ve gotten even more stuck (seriously, downed power lines and escorts out of storm-ridden neighborhoods).
Remember the promise. God’s there. He will lead, direct and comfort you as you walk through. I mean, knowing that, would you even want to go around?