Seventeen years ago, I ran into an ER in a panic. My son had fallen and hit his head on hard sand; he was maybe 15 months old. We rushed him to the hospital. As I held him in my arms, he was in and out of consciousness.
The feeling that goes through your body as a parent in a moment like that is something I will never forget, forever branded in my brain. The moments leading up to why I was running in as my husband was driving, I still can’t piece together. But I will NEVER forget crying and frantically looking for him in this small hospital, screaming, “Where is my son?!”
A nurse grabbed my shoulders and stared right at me and said, very clearly and calmly, “Pull yourself together before you enter that room.”
It has stuck with me throughout my adult, parent life, as that was the beginning of many crises to come. I have learned to be strong my whole life, to prepare for these moments, as I observed my mother, who was one of the strongest people I know.
I know how to walk through fire, wake up and walk through it again. I know how to compartmentalize when needed. I know how to read a room and get everyone what they need. But what I have learned is the importance of asking for help — when to say uncle, when to say that I need to tap out, that I am drowning. Being strong isn’t going it alone; it is learning to ask for help.