How I Stopped Feeling Like I Wasn't 'Doing Enough'

by Laura McKowen
Originally Published: 

I took a few hours off last week to take Alma to her five-year appointment. She was anxious about whether or not she’d have to get a shot, but excited about all of the fun things the doctor would do: Check her ears, ask her questions, peek in her mouth, ask her to count to 10. I explained she may not have to get a shot, we’d find out when we got there. She said she’d be okay if she needed to get one—she wouldn’t cry. I said I’d be there either way.

Well, she was due for a shot. And from the moment she learned it was coming to the time it took me and two nurses to hold her so they could administer it. It was like mercury rising: her fear escalated as she started to anticipate the prick of the needle. She tried to bargain her way out, and I explained to her that thinking about it was the thing that made it scary—that it actually would only last a moment if she could just be brave for a second, just one second. When the nurses came in, Alma looked dead into my eyes and begged, “Please, Mama, I don’t want it!” I lowered my gaze to meet hers, gently turned her shoulders so her heart could face mine, and clasped her little hands. I asked her what we do when we’re afraid.

She swallowed and replied, “We do it anyway. We are brave.”

She still cried and struggled, and I winced at having to hold my baby while they did the small thing they had to do. But she made it, of course. I was there. We had a giggle later on, and she got to tell her dad how terrible it was.

And you know what? That was the only thing I needed to do that day. Or week. Or month. That would’ve been enough.

Our busyness is so often just clutter and noise, and the “enough” part is the one or two moments we get to show up for the ones we love—and assure them they’ll be alright.

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