It happened 4 years ago, but I remember it well.
My son was very upset with me. He didn't not scream at me or use harsh words. Instead, he ignored me, refused to give me affection, and withdrew from me ever so slightly.
I had just returned home from an emergency hospital admission with Jaycee. It was one of those admissions where I left in the middle of the night leaving Elijah with a grandparent while I rushed Jaycee to the emergency room. For about a week, I stayed with Jaycee in the hospital. Because Jaycee had RSV, Elijah was advised not to visit.
When I returned home, Elijah was upset. He was not quite 2 years old, but he had felt the impact of being away from his mommy for a week. He was letting me know about it. Elijah and I always snuggled, hugged, and kissed at bed time. The first night I tucked him into bed, he withdrew. He would not kiss me. I was shocked and a bit hurt.
This continued for weeks. Obviously, he was young so he relied on me for basic needs. But our relationship had changed. He was mad at me. I tried to reassure him. I tried to explain to him that his sissy was sick and that I had to help her in the hospital. He couldn't grasp this at his age. He only knew I had suddenly disappeared and then suddenly reappeared a week later.
I responded to him the only way I knew how. I kept loving him and pursuing him. I hugged him, kissed him, told him I loved him, and eventually he came around. I'm guessing he began to feel safe and secure again.
That was the first time I knew a medical emergency had an impact on Elijah. I learned from that experience and used it to help for future emergencies. As Elijah gets older, I ask him questions about how he feels and give him opportunities to talk things out. Jaycee's illness takes a toll on all of us in the family, no one is spared.
A few weeks ago when Jaycee went into respiratory distress at home, I had to leave Elijah around 11 at night. My husband stayed home with him while I went to the emergency room. When Elijah woke up, my husband broke the news to Elijah. He cried.
The two of them then made their way over to the hospital that day. As I ate lunch in the hospital cafeteria with Elijah, a few times he remarked how he didn't know I had left last night. I told him that it wasn't planned, and I knew his daddy would take care of him. That seemed to satisfy him for the moment, but I knew he was upset with me.
After spending almost a week in the hospital with Jaycee, I returned home with her. Over the next couple of days, I tried to give Elijah some extra attention and talk to him about what happened. He continued to tell me that he was upset that I didn't tell him when we left for the hospital. Waking him up at 11 at night didn't seem like a good idea. After all, I was leaving him with his dad. Still, I guess he felt abandoned by his mom again. We talked it out knowing full well this could happen again. We discussed what we could do different next time. We came to an agreement. Next time, I would write him a short letter for him telling him what happened. He thought that was a good idea.
All relationships take work, especially when a medical crisis is regularly involved. When my child is mad at me, whether I can help it or not, I do what Jesus did. I try to respond with love. Love and time is the best I can give.