I am a member of a club here in town. It's priveleges aren't that great, they don't serve you food and they keep it a little too cool in their rooms, but, as my MawMaw says, "It beats the alternative!"
I became a member after Kate was born and apparantely, will be a member for the rest of her life. Memberships to this club aren't sought after and cannot be bought, only earned by your experiences. Through each of my experiences here, I have watched the other members come and go... carrying laundry, snacks, babydolls and trucks...up and down elevators....often wearing the same wrinkled clothes...always looking tired. The most common attribute they carry though is stress. It's painted on their faces and even when they smile, the worry is still visible.
The levels of membership here vary and I am relieved to say that my level isn't nearly as advanced as other members I have seen. I THANK GOD EVERY DAY FOR THIS! I watch as the more "advanced" members rock their non-stop crying child to ease the pain, kiss their baby before he leaves for open heart sugery, or walking their balding toddler down the hallway, making sure the iv pole stays within reach. I'm as sensitive as they come and it is always very hard to watch all of these other members worry so visibly, all the while carrying my own smaller level of stress.
During our visits to "The Club," I lay awake at night and listen to the other members' babies cry and moan and whimper. I listen to mothers singing sweet lullabies. I listen to beeping....lots and lots and lots of beeping! I listen as doctors and nurses explain and console other members.
I learned that some members don't come to the club and stay with their child. They are invited, but for whatever reason, their child lays here 98% of the day and night alone. The nurses and doctors are far too busy to hold their hand or sing soothing songs all night. They must tend to everyone's needs. Ouch...this really hurts to watch and hear!
I'm not sure this is something I'll ever get accustomed to watching, listening and feeling, but I can tell you that these experiences always make me...GRATEFUL. I tell myself often, "it could always be worse" and my MawMaw is very right..."This beats the alternative." While my baby often gets sick and every now and then, really sick, she has so many days of being healthy and happy. I get the privelege of loving on her and playing with her every day. I get to hear her call me "Mama" and hold her sweet head against my chest and tell her that everything is going to be ok. I get to rock her every night and sing sweet lullabies, telling her that Mommy, Daddy, Bubba, Jackie, Jesus, G, Grandpa (the list could go on for days) all love her so much. I tell her that she is a strong little girl and that she can fight for her health, muscle strength and place in this world. I tell her that she can do anything she sets her mind to do. And day by day, I expect to see her do things that continue to make me laugh and love her even more. (Secretly, I even tell her that I fully expect her to challenge me during her teenage years.)
Yes, I am a member of The Club here, but I wouldn't trade my daughter for anything else in this world. So, I proudly and often tiredly wear this badge of honor as her mother and will always be grateful for the precious gift God has entrusted in my care.