Something very scary happened to a close friend of mine this week. She is probably the first good friend I made when I moved here and over the years I've come to really admire her. She is a pretty petite mom of a litter of boys and she is strong, despite her stature. She has amazing strength in managing her boys. But as I was standing next to her in the ER holding her hand, I couldn't help but notice how small she is. Her little frame was drowning in the baggy hospital gown and she looked weak and scared. As a non-working nurse, I felt helpless; she is my friend, not my patient. I had to keep making excuses to go "check on the boys", so she wouldn't see how weak I felt looking at her. And there were the boys.
In the next curtain over, there were her boys and mine camped out on a hospital bed together watching cartoons. It was a room full of boys and a room full of strength; not their actual testosterone filled strength, but rather the strength that they bring to us as their mothers. I don't like to define a mother by her children, but I'll make an exception. My friend is so much stronger than she looks because she is a mom to these big strong boys. Just the fact that she has boys, and multiple boys, is like having merit badges. When people see these boys around her, its like they see her merit badges and know what she has been through and will go through to be their mother. They see proof of her inner strength. I at least see that when I look at her. And the nurses at the hospital saw it too. As I was leaving to take the whole gang of boys out of the ER for a break, the nurse commented on how brave I was to take them all. I didn't feel brave, but I did feel strong. Being a mother is an honor, but it is something of merit as well. Even when I am feeling weak, I know that I am strong because I have my own boys, my badges, to remind me.