Yesterday I called 911 for the first time. I let the kids each pick a treat out of their ‘birthday party stash’ – the candy that had come out of a pinata at a friend’s birthday party. My 4 1/2-year old chose a small piece of hard candy; when he asked how to eat it I told him it was like a lollipop but without a stick. Two minutes later he was choking – able to cough but not to speak, panic in his eyes as I gave him back blows and encouraged him to breathe through his nose. I called 911 as soon as the first couple blows didn’t work… and was on the phone with dispatch when he succeeded in coughing the candy into his mouth (at which point I called it off, sat with him as our adrenaline pumped, and prayed thanks to God for bringing him through it to safety.). I’ve never been so relieved in my years as a mother as I was at that moment. It was the first time that I truly felt crisis set in… that things could go terribly wrong right there in my kitchen with my little boy in my arms.
As I’ve reflected on that moment over the past 24 hours, I’ve thought about how the moment was for me a tangible instance of the visible and invisible worlds coming together. It was an intersection between the what-is and the what-could-be, the possibility of a life-and-death moment. The here-and-now and eternity seemed to meet in that moment.
Thousands of mothers have undergone a similarly scary moment with their child and emerged on the other side, both mother and child shaken but OK, the mother relieved and thankful for the child’s life. Like me they’ve come through the incident seeing their child’s life and the gift he is more clearly; they’ve found that everything else in life pales in comparison to the unspeakable blessing of my child’s life. Before the near-choking I, for example,was primarily focused on behavior issues and brainstorming dinner options. After the moment I was totally unconcerned about either.
The funny thing is this: yesterday morning during my prayer time I prayed for a spirit of tenderness toward my kids. We’d hosted family members for a week and consequently my kids were over-tired, whiney, and entitled. In such situations my tendency is to crack down and get into firm, “this is how we behave” mode to reinstitute household and behavioral norms. This is appropriate but can easily lend itself to overkill too. I prayed that God would help me to actively love and cherish my kids even in the midst of what I knew would be an increased-correction day.
He definitely answered that prayer. I can think of nothing that could better foster more tenderness in my child, into all my children really, than a moment like that when the unseen and seen worlds collide. Objectivity and holy truth breathed into the mundane. This child is a gift to be treasured, never to be taken for granted or glossed over. We walk by faith, not by sight… and yet how vital to wear our faith-lenses in our day- to-day lives with our kids! How crucial to cherish them as God would have! To take nothing for granted as tomorrow is never promised for any of us. May I treasure my kids each day as I did last night. May my tenderness toward them overflow even as my Father’s overflows each day toward me. Father, help me to ever love them with an other-worldly, affectionate, tender love.