Twice every day I grab my pumping supplies and trek over to the children’s hospital (just across the street via the catwalk). I honestly try not to think too much about where I am or who occupies the space that I am using, I just go there, pump and leave. Occasionally I’ll bring a bag of candy when their candy jar looks low, but I really do try to keep my distance. I know none of the nurses names. Until Friday. Friday I lost the distance and things hit home.
As I finished up my pumping session I could hear some commotion in the hall. I opened the door to a few doctors standing outside the door (which is on a side hallway that is adjacent to the main hall). It was the annual Christmas Parade. The hall was filled with parents holding cameras and cellphones, doors to rooms that are typically closed were open, and that day I saw more kids than I ever had. Children standing in doorways holding IV towers, decorated in hospital wristbands. Peeking into rooms you could see miniature christmas trees, hand drawn getwell cards and a magnitude of personal touches to an otherwise boring room. To be fair, occasionally there is a child roaming the hall on a scooter, or being pulled in a wagon by a parent or child life specialist, so I had seen those who occupy the rooms before, but never like this. That day I saw their families.
As each department walked by the rooms dressed in their holiday best with matching floats. There were Whos and the Grinch, Elfs, Trolls, Dory and Jelly Fish, and so many more. As each group passed out gifts or treats to the children and families. Parents snapped pictures and rolled video to capture the joy on their child’s face. Parents cried and laughed. They hugged the staff and faculty. Children smiled and laughed, they graciously accepted each gift that was handed to them.
Then came Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and I lost it.
In that moment I realized I had gotten so wrapped up in the stress of the holiday. The stress of looking for a house to call our own. The stress of our own day to day. I realized I had forgotten to take the time to be truly thankful for my family.
To be thankful…
…for our health
…that our time in the NICU was only 13 days and no more. And that we came home with a beautiful healthy little girl who is growing so wonderfully.
…for my two year old who never stops talking. Who loves his brother and sister. Who loves to be a goof and is always looking for a laugh.
…for an almost five year old who wants to learn everything he can. Who is so caring. And who is always looking out for those around him.
…for a husband and father to my children that is the best at both. Who is an active participant in raising them from clipping nails (manicures) to staying home for sick day snuggles with daddy and everything above and in between.
In that moment I became selfish. I was thankful that my family was not spending the holidays there. That we were not fitting the same battles. That we are able to sit in the comfort of our home and make gingerbread houses. I was thankful for all the things that I have, all the things that my children have both material and non. All the things that my husband and I work hard to give them. The love that we all share. I was thankful that I was seeing this parade from ‘the other side of the hall’ and not from a room while I snapped pictures of my child. But I was also thankful that this was happening. I was thankful that I work at a place that does what it can to make something so great happen. I was thankful that the parents of those children were able to see this joy in their children during this time. Thankful that their children were at this hospital over any other one and that this was happening for them. Thankful that they were able to get a photo with Santa without the stress of everything that would come from leaving that safe place.
It was truly a humbling moment. A reminder that although things can get rough sometimes, there is always someone going through something worse. Take a step back, get some perspective, it’s probably not all that bad.