I woke up at 3:30 this morning in panic mode. I'd been dreaming unpleasantly — I think it was an outgrowth of the Sharknado trailer I happened upon at bedtime — and Nate had appeared by my bedside to wake me, complaining of a nightmare (maybe we'd been sharing.) Having gotten the boy tucked back in, I turned back to my own bed and tried to settle back down. I had fuzzy thoughts about acid reflux and having your heart in your mouth and then fell asleep.
The concept of "having your heart in your mouth" has stayed with me all day, so I'm blogging it out.
You see, there are two ways you can have your heart in your mouth. The first way is the fear-based method: you have your heart in your mouth when you're anxious, afraid, on the edge of your seat wondering if it's all going to fall apart, feeling as if a flying maelstrom of scary finned creatures that date back to the Paleozoic will suddenly fling itself at you and find you, devoid of chainsaw, waiting to sate its toothy appetite. It gives me heartburn just thinking about it.
The second way to have your heart in your mouth is metaphysical; you put your heart in your mouth when you express your feelings verbally. If your heart is filled with love, and you say, "I love you," then your heart is in your mouth. Get it?
Parenting a child with diabetes gives plenty of opportunity for the first kind of heart-in-mouth experience. I have it every time Eric wakes me up and says, "I think I peed in my bed, Mom." — pretty much a sure sign that he's having a wicked overnight high, probably due to a crimped pump site. I have it when I take his blood sugar and the number that pops up is an unexpected 52. I have it when I take a blood ketone level on a hunch and find him at (yikes!) 2.5. I have it all the time when the little bugger disappears on me when I'm fretting about whether I gave him too much insulin for that carb-count-guesstimated restaurant meal.
What balances the fear, though, is the second kind of heart-in-mouth. Loving, and more importantly, expressing that love, is part of it. "You're my darling boy, and I love you" I say to him, at least 3 times a day. But more than that: expressing ALL of the heart that is in the mouth. "Please don't do that," I say to a boy I've caught sneaking cookies, "because it frightens me when your blood sugar goes so high." Or, "I'm angry with you right now, because you did not listen to me when I told you not to run across the parking lot." Or even, "I'm angry right now, but it's not because of you. It's because I'm frustrated over something else, so don't take it personally if I'm grumpy." Talking to the child about what you feel as a parent gives him two messages: first, that it's OK for him to talk about what HE feels (monkey see, monkey do), and second, that you trust him with the things you hold in your heart. Things OTHER than that damnable fear.
We are parents, but we are human. We have feelings in our hearts. When we put those feelings in our mouths as well, it helps us tone down the Sharknado that hit us when our precious child developed this horrid disease. And that is better than any chainsaw.