A Princess Tale


Motherhood, for all its charms, still requires a lot of sweat and tears. Some days you’re bounding down a country lane with your chatty offspring, and other days you’re on your hands and knees with a bleach bucket, scrubbing vomit out of the grout.

Thursday morning began as usual but ended with an emergency run to the health clinic.

Three of the four kids were up, my husband was getting ready for work, and I was making some lean green. As the juicer was winding down, we heard a barking noise from Libby’s room. Everyone–the children, the pets, even the creaky house seemed to freeze in time.

After a moment, Katie said, “I think that was Libby.”

I ran to Libby’s room, and she was sitting half up on her bed, struggling to breathe. Though the morning sun shone through the fuchsia curtains, bathing the room in a rosy glow, Libby’s face was ashen and her lips were tinged with blue. All I could think was that she had developed pneumonia, her lungs were filling with fluid, and there was nothing I could do.

I have never been so terrified. All that I imagined I was; any scrap of power or control I thought I had was wiped away; and it was just me and God.

I realize that many women, like two of my dear grandmothers, have lost children, or have seen them become deathly ill, but for me, this was the worst thing I have ever been through. And it is as close to tragedy as I’d ever like to get in my life.

I’m not a doctor. I can’t make a trache tube out of a pen; I don’t know proper procedures for this kind of emergency; so as I was on my knees digging pants out of Libby’s underbed dresser, all I could do was pray.

It calmed me down; and it calmed Libby down to a point where she could breathe through her nose.

I felt like falling apart, but I was able to keep it together long enough to get the girl bundled up and out the door without making everyone in the house panic. Though she was shoeless, one of the kids managed to tuck Wilbur, Libby’s favorite stuffed pig, under her arm.

The drive to the clinic was endless. It seemed every tractor-trailer in Bavaria had descended on our winding B-road, just ahead of us at every turn. It’s probably a good thing my calm, collected husband was driving.

When we finally arrived, they got Libby in right away. A chest x-ray revealed a lung infection, which could possibly be developing into pneumonia. At the clinic, Libby was given some medicine and started to perk up. By the time we left, her face no longer had that scary gray pallor, and her lips had turned back to the Princessy pink.

Thankfully, Libby is on the mend now.

As a mom, it’s normal, I think, to self-flagellate with stinging questions: How could I let her get this sick? How could I let her eat junk food? Why didn’t I take her to the doctor sooner?

As a steward of these precious young lives, I need wisdom, but I also can’t beat myself up over my mistakes.

I do believe there is a reason for everything that happens in life–even the bad things.

And I hope and pray that Libby’s princess tale has a happily ever after.


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