I’ve heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead, and some come from behind. But I’ve brought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!

-Dr. Seuss

How do you protect yourself? What do you bring in defense?

Anger? Denial? Projection? Indifference?

I usually bring intense energy, a knotted stomach, and resourcefulness. I may not always solve a problem right away, but I keep swinging at ideas in all directions until something connects.

That’s how I protect myself and those I love.

That sense of defense and preservation goes beyond having children. All ages and walks of life do what they must to protect what they love. It’s an instinctive and pure reaction.

Taft school called at 11:00 this morning to tell me Abram was in the office again. Recovering after radiation and chemotherapy has its own set of cautions. Plus, his compromised immune system creates an easy target for germs.

The secretary said his stomach aches and his throat “feels funny” not sore, but not funny “ha, ha” either. When I talked to him on the phone, he sounded shaky. I immediately sprang to action and got him home.

He’s in his cozy recliner but looks unwell: dark eyes, pale skin, and that listless slump we get when we’re tired. He has no fever, but says it doesn’t feel like a normal stomach ache. On a pain scale he gives it a five.

Those details leave me without answers to what is really wrong with him, but I can work with that.

After I got him comfortable, I gently rubbed his neck and abdomen with essential oils: ginger, marjoram, and fennel to alleviate the pain and soothe his throat and stomach. Now he is resting.

For the past 27 months our two duffel bags have been packed in case we need to respond to a medical emergency and head to Chicago. I don’t think I will ever fully unpack; I need to always feel prepared.

Today, I finally realized on a deeper level, that I made the right decision staying home to take care of my family. I had doubts. I miss my classroom and friends, and I’ve found over the past two weeks that the view of the stay-at-home mom is to some, an old joke.

On a few occasions, I found myself accounting for how I fill my time now that all I do is “stay home.” That’s been a sensitive subject for me. I’ve worked hard at every job I’ve tried since I started babysitting at eleven years old. Now I’m trying to reclaim my home and my life after being blindsided by pediatric cancer and the onslaught of grief that goes with it.

I don’t know what I expected these back-to-school weeks to feel like, but defensive wasn’t something I’d figured on.  Their comments made me feel a bit selfish. After all, why should I get more time to my family and myself? Do I/we really deserve it?

Today, I can firmly say, “yes.”

Being sick is easier with a mom around. I miss my mom every day, and when I’m feeling low, it’s twice as painful. Abraham, although improving, will remain medically fragile for some time. Since I have been fortunate and blessed with this special child, I will treat the honor with the dedication and patience it deserves.

Tommy needs me, too. He got by without his mom’s help for much of his fifth and sixth grade experience. I’m here for him now to support and guide him through the challenges of junior high. I can clearly recall my friend, Jane, telling me as a school administrator how she firmly believed that although it’s obvious how younger children need a solid home to offer nurturing and guidance, during her years in education she has seen time and again how vital it is to be there for tweens and teens as they transition into adulthood.

After helping Abraham today, I know where I am needed most. Chris and I have always put our children first, and I am proud of that.  Yet, “Only by pride cometh contention,” so it’s a thin line to defend. The hard part is keeping hostility at bay as we raise our precautionary bats in defense of our love and commitments.

I like to cooperate, and I prefer defense to offense; however, when the health and harmony of my loved ones is compromised, I’m going to stick with my basic instincts and come out swinging.