I was always the one that got squeamish around needles. Growing up, I dreaded biology class because I heard the rumors from the upper classmen that we would be dissecting animals. The thoughts and fears of cutting open frogs and worms occupied my mind even before I reached that school grade.
I've had a lifelong confusion of how surgeons can take a scalpel to skin, and I've had to close my eyes at every blood draw (and somehow still end up woozy). I even went as far as to deliver my children naturally - only partially for the "natural" experience, but probably more so because the thought of a needle going into my spine was not something I wanted to entertain.
Being a parent has forced me to be strong in certain situations that I would normally not be able to face. A big culprit is fear. As a parent, you can't always let on that you are fearful of a situation as this fear will then pass on to the child. So if your child gets hurt and senses that you are scared and upset, they will surely be more frightened and upset. We're supposed to be their support.
So when it's time for us to be strong, it's funny how we start off with intentions to be their support, when in actuality, the children somehow make this possible for us and this is what makes us stronger. It just happens naturally.
Here's my recent experience that better explains this. When my son was in second grade, we got the email from the teacher looking for volunteers for the classroom's eye dissection project. I didn't even need to think about it - NO WAY was I going to do that! You couldn't even get me in the room to observe. I kindly bowed out.
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Now that my daughter is in 2nd grade, I got the same e-mail. I avoided it for a couple of days. And, then my daughter approached me saying that the other kids were talking about how their parents were coming in to help with the dissection project and she asked if I could come in as well. I looked back at the email from the teacher who specified that this would be pretty simple so I thought "I'll do this for my daughter" still hoping that maybe we'd be using a fake eye or something.
Well, the day came and I found myself in a classroom listening to instructions for how to cut open a sheep's eye. Yes, I sat there with a scalpel, scissors, and a real sheep's eye in my hand - wondering what I got myself into. I looked over at my daughter who is a lot like me as she refused to even put on a pair of gloves, and I told myself I needed to set an example for how you can encourage yourself to do things and conquer your fears.
I somehow got the strength to slice this eye ball with the scalpel, cut it in half with scissors, and take it apart so the children could see the retina, lens, cornea and all the other parts. I never got queasy or nervous, and wouldn't you know it, my hesitant daughter ended up putting on some gloves, grabbing the different parts of the eyeball and inspecting them herself. I got my strength from her, and it made her stronger too.
I looked around the classroom and noticed that all of the other parents had gotten their strength as well. Even the one dad who we all thought would not make it through the instructive presentation, found himself cutting into the eyeball with some confidence.
Being a parent puts you in positions every day to draw strength from your children. All those things you never thought you could handle but gladly accept because you have to... The sleepless nights, mountains of dirty diapers, watching your child become sick or hurt... Every day life events that force you to be stronger no matter how insignificant they may seem at the time. Sure, the sheep's eye dissection was just a silly class project but it is just a small example of how parents can toughen up when the chips are down.