Owlet is learning to tie knots.
This means my rolling desk chair is now often lashed to my desk drawer handles (or occasionally I guess it makes a run for it, only to eventually be tethered to the linen cupboard handles down the hall).
Luckily, she isn’t all that successful at tying real whoppers yet… mostly just twists and loops and the occasional easily undone, almost accidental knot. I’ve gotten a sneak preview of what life is like with a successful knot-master — you see, Owlet is apprenticing in knots with her six-year-old friend — and I am ever so happy to see this less-effective stage last awhile.
Her efforts remind me of my own.
Like many a parent, I am pretending I can anchor her and Platypup with bands of Good Healthy Food and No TV and Lots of Reading and No Toxic Cleaning Supplies and Music Aplenty and No Yelling and Lots of Time Outdoors. I am wrapping lines of beautiful silken chord around them, creating a lovely nest and likely doing them more good than harm.
But it is, in the end, mostly illusion, and a big bad something could tug them from me quick as anything.
We all know that, we parents. Truly, deep down, when the house is quiet and we miss their wriggly selves but daren’t check on them for fear of creaking a loose floorboard. We know our control over their livelihood is more that of a child “driving” its stroller than that of the parent pushing it along.
Owlet had a febrile seizure last week. It was our first time, and it was terrifying despite being a completely normal (terrible/mostly harmless) thing for a child’s body to do.
Were we at home, where we live within ten minutes of the nearest hospital and within 20 min of two more? Where the world’s awesomest ER nurse is practically family?
No. We were on vacation. Quite a distance from the nearest hospital.
Ce la vie.
It turned out alright, particularly since 20 month old Platypup had the good sense to call his beloved uncle, a firefighter and former EMT, on the phone moments before it began (no joke), and Owlet has recovered from whatever caused it and is mostly over the trauma of having things done to her against her will (rectal thermometer, medicine, throat and nose cultures, etc.) although a few lingering behavioral issues tell us she is not quite done processing. But we knew it might not have been. And despite being as coolcalmandcollected as we knew how to be, Thor and I certainly were rocked.
A year and a half ago my friends were similarly rocked. But instead of a tame febrile seizure, they were dealt leukemia. Their glowing light of a child, Caemon, died a year ago. Their knots were some of the best I’ve seen.
These lines are all we have. Lines of joy and healthy habits and loving limits. Teeth brushing and seat belts and vegan nail polish and goodnight kisses.
Lines that wither with one precise tug.
And grappling with that unresolvable vulnerability is a parent’s largest battle. To walk precariously between the windswept plains of errant disregard and the fetid bog of gnawing anxiety. To see clearly the limits of our influence and courageously tie our ineffective knots anyway. To live each moment as if there will be another.