Tears, fears and joys: All part of raising a family

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Grandbaby snuggles may be the best thing ever. Selfie by Carolyn Bahm.
Carolyn Bahm

I’m usually a glass-half-full person. But I remember when my two daughters were little, and fears often beset me that something tragic and awful would happen to them.

When my first child came home from the hospital with me, I remember being unable to relax and sleep unless I had her close. It was reassuring to put her in the bassinette and to reach out and touch her back or watch her breathing.

I’ve always been a hard sleeper, difficult to disturb and difficult to wake. Once in college, I snored peacefully through a furniture-flinging fight in the room next door, complete with a visit from campus security — a ruckus that work up the entire floor in our wing of the dorm. But despite our paper-thin dormitory walls, I didn’t know about it until the next morning.

When waked from a deep sleep, I’ve also been known to take phone calls or have entire open-eyed conversations with my husband, and I will have no memory of it the next morning.

I’m talking a DEEP sleeper.

So as a mom, I was surprised to find that having kids meant I slept lightly and bolted awake when they sniffled.

As both of my girls got older, it became easier to trust that these precious little people wouldn’t be taken away from me by some illness or accident, and my hyper-alertness slowly faded.

I don’t think I let it cloud my life, but there were many moments when I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that they were probably going to be just fine.

And what do you know … they were. Even my older girl, who had a penchant for finding tiny things she could pop into her mouth and choke on. (A penny, the red plastic rim around a slice of balogna that her dad gave her, an entire bottle of bubble solution she poured in her face when I turned my head to find a diaper wipe, and even an interesting-looking bug at the park when I was filming her in a pretty white summer dress. She was quick to grab and munch.)

Loving someone that dearly means you feel a deep squeeze to your heart when a fear floats through your head. It’s just a price that you pay.

This came to mind over the weekend, as I watched my five-month-old granddaughter cough, sniffle and sneeze her way through a cold. I visited to give my older daughter a break so she could catch up on her sleep.

When a baby is stuffy and is irritated by a tickly cough and having to mouth breathe, that means the parents go around with darker circles than usual under their eyes for a week or two while the baby protests the unfairness of a cold.

While I was there, I kept telling my daughter to go crash in bed and catch some Zs. But she snuggled under a blanket on the sofa, and her eyes popped open at every little cough from her baby.

I remember how that was. And I’m grateful that, despite the worries, we live in an age where we can almost take it for granted that our children and grandchildren will outlive us.
Still, tragedies do happen to both the rich and the poor. I was so sad over this weekend to hear about the death of Kobe Bryant, his young daughter, and all the others on his helicopter. Nothing’s guaranteed, is it. Even to the most fortunate of us.

It makes me want to drive back down to Water Valley, pick up my grandbaby and hug my older daughter again. Just like it makes me want to drive to Columbus, Ohio, and hug my other daughter, who’s finishing up her senior year in college.

They might not need a little bit of motherly clinging, but sometimes I still do. Just for a minute.

CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her by email to carolyn@magicvalleypublishing.com, by phone at 901-433-9138 or by letter to The Bartlett Express, 2850 Stage Village Cv, Suite 5, Bartlett TN 38134.