I am freaking out. I got the call confirming the details of Liam’s surgery. Check-in at 10:30am, surgery at 12:30pm, no food or drinks after midnight. 12:30pm! The time sent me into a panic. He would not be carried out to the car asleep, groggily wake up on the ride to the hospital, be the first surgery of the day and head home before noon. He’d have the full morning to wake up and realize this was the day of his surgery.
I’m not sure why this set me off. Partially because I want things to be as easy as possible. I didn’t want to have to spend the morning convincing him jello and broth are food. I don’t want to have to tell him “no” when he asks for milk for the tenth time. I also don’t want him to be uncomfortable for one second longer than he has too. I worry that the longer I have to be enthusiastic and excited about the hospital, the greater the chance I will burst into tears. I’m the one who cried the first time he got a vaccine.
I am not the adult of the relationship. Ben is the adult and I am his quirky, kid-like wife. He sets up college funds, I make play-doh. He pays the mortgage, I make the trips to CostCo. I know this makes me sound like the equivalent of June Cleaver, but that is just how our relationship works. It doesn’t mean he can’t be fun or I can’t be serious, but we know our comfort zones.
Every once in awhile, I get hit with an occasion where I have to act like a grown up. When we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, I bought a gravy boat instead of serving the gravy out of a cereal bowl with a soup spoon. We wanted to paint the walls of our new house, and I realized it was my duty to clean the prior owners’ boogers off the walls. Now, I must play the fun, animated parent just long enough for Liam to be taken to the operating room. Then I can collapse in tears.
So I’m doing what I do when I worry. I’m cooking. My family may not proclaim “I love you” at the end of every phone call, but we will let you know how much we care by making you a favorite meal.
Every time I fly home to Colorado, my mom cooks fried chicken for me. She knows it’s the only time I eat it, and I love the way she prepares it. Even in the middle of July, she will stand over a hot pan, frying that chicken for me. This is no small task. I have four brothers and a sister, most of whom are married and have kids. So when she fries chicken for me, she is really cooking for a small army. But she does it. That single act more than words lets me know how much she has missed me.
Today, I prepared pizza dough from scratch, because toddlers love to make their own pizzas. I bought Liam’s favorite toppings- pepperoni and olives. I grated two kinds of cheese, because he likes to mix them.
We also baked cookies, so he could help. He takes pride in cracking the eggs and scooping the flour. He wanted to sample the chips and cranberries we blended in. He waited impatiently while they baked in the oven.
I picked up a watermelon for him- his favorite fruit. He ate piece after piece until he was covered in juice.
I hope tonight when he goes to bed, his tummy is full. So full that it will carry him right through the day, without a thought of the food he is missing out on as he prepares for his operation.