Illness and injury is not fun for any mom, but I especially dislike when my girls have any kind of surgery or procedure. It is overwhelming to sign so many papers that give the okay to put your child at risk of never being the same again, or even the possibility of something worse. The first time my girls are given general anesthesia is especially scary for me…you don’t know how they might react to it until they’ve actually experienced it. A possible allergic reaction or aspiration and pneumonia are always hovering in my mind, and I’m so relieved when I get the report that all is well.
Last week, Lainey had to have general anesthesia for an endoscopy. It went well, and she woke up smiling and laughing. She said she was having a really good dream, but couldn’t remember what it was about. After an hour in recovery and a large orange Slurpee, she was ready to go.
Right before her surgery, I had one of those moments that I’ve reflected on quite often over the past several days. While we were waiting with other families in pre-op, I talked to one mom who looked especially worried. Her 4 year-old was there to have her tonsils taken out. I told her that I had a daughter whose tonsils were taken out at 5, and I gave her lots of reassuring comments. Towards the end of our chat, she asked, “Was it worth it?” I told her that it definitely was as it had made a huge difference in the overall health of my now 17 year-old. I left her then and hopefully our talk helped a little.
Over the next few days, though, her question really stuck with me. “Was it worth it,” can be asked of so many decisions that we make as parents. But it is especially pertinent when it involves any risk of harm to our child. This question, I think, becomes even more significant as our children get older and the risks get bigger. For example, “Was it worth it” to help them get their driver’s license, or extend their curfew that one time, or go to an overnight camp with friends. “Was it worth it” to push them towards college, or careers, or backpacking through Europe. “Was it worth it?”
That is one of those questions that we all have to answer in retrospect. I think the more difficult part is deciding right now, “Will it be worth it?” I think I ask myself that question on almost a daily basis. Thankfully, the answer has almost always been “yes” to both questions…“Was it worth it?” and “Will it be worth it?” And even more thankfully, I’ve never had to ask myself that question when the stakes were really high. I hope I never do.