We parents spend so much time and worry energy trying to protect our offspring from danger. It starts with “watch out, that’s HOT!” and “Look both ways!” and leads into admonitions to be cautious about what this or that friend might be trying to lead her into. Then they move away and forget to look both ways!
At least, that’s how it seemed when I picked up the phone and heard Rosie sobbing out the words, “I just got hit by a bus!” Only two weeks into living on her own in a new city, and she’s already in an accident? Apparently she hung a left on her bike right in the pathway of the city bus. The only saving grace is the fact that she has always been vigilant about wearing her helmet (following yet another one of those cautions) and hence kept her head intact despite slicing up her hands and getting seriously bruised up.
The good part is she is in one piece and fine. I got to hear her own voice telling me the scary news on the phone, not some apologetic cop or medical worker. And, you know, it was so weird. Here she is in hysterics, sobbing and crying while she tells me she got hit my a bus, and although I reacted properly “Oh My god! Are you OK? What happened?” It was a like a wave of numbness washed over me. I could see myself from a distance. I mean shouldn’t I be crying? Dropping to my knees and sobbing in relief that she was okay. Shaking?
Instead, I felt strangely calm, well not exactly calm, but it took till after we hung up for the news to really hit me. And that’s when I finally got that freaked out shaky feeling. I was even trying to joke with her about her refusal of the offer to go to the hospital to get checked out – like mother like daughter I said. Like hah ha, she really wanted to hear that.
But, my point really is this immense feeling of impotence, of ineffectuality, when my daughters call from these great distances with announcements of narrowly avoided disasters, or of injuries (whether of the body or the heart). She is weeping and crying and my arms ache to gather and hold her as I know the closeness will reassure both of us. But the miles stretch between us and the truth is she is on her own now and I can’t fix the hurts. No more magic kisses and special band aids. Both daughters must struggle through their injuries and heart breaks with only my reassuring voice on the ends of a wire – entreating them to take their Rescue Remedy.