26 Av 5781 / Wednesday, August 04, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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A New Breath of Air    

A New Breath of Air

I was sound asleep when all of a sudden my panicking, pale-skinned four-year-old son burst into my room panting, “MOMMY,* gasp* HELP ME,*gasp* I *gasp* CAN’T * gasp* BREATH...”


I guess it had to be a wheezing, whimpering, child, desperately gasping air in the middle of the night, to literally, and figuratively, wake me up.


I was sound asleep when all of a sudden my panicking, pale-skinned four-year-old son burst into my room panting, “MOMMY,* gasp* HELP ME,*gasp* I *gasp* CAN’T * gasp* BREATH.”


His high-pitched wheezing and trembling little frame aroused a panic in me. I shot straight out of bed. He hasn’t had an asthma attack like this in a long time. In fact, I thought we were done with that stage of life. What could have triggered this? Did he accidently eat something that he is allergic to? Did I mess up with the granola bars, and mistakenly give him peanut-butter instead of berry?

I ran over and gave him a hug.


“It’s ok, Eli,” I said, probably sounding more nervous than convincing. “You’re going to be fine.”


My husband jumped out of bed too, and hurried to set up a smorgasbord of meds. As he was pulling out the nebulizer, inhaler, Benadryl and rescue remedy, I took my son over to the window, opened it, and encouraged the cool night air to massage his frantic lungs.


It’s rare that Eli shows any signs of fear. Even when he recently ran into a fish tank, sliced his thigh open, and needed stitches, he still remained pretty calm. He is normally the fearless child, the dare devil, the rule breaker. He does whatever he wants and does it with a smile. Lately, as a matter of fact, his autonomy has manifest in the daily wetting off his pants. This smelly new rebellion has been happening a few times a day, every day, for a few months. And unfortunately, all the usual parenting tactics such as sticker charts, consequences, rewards, and punishments all meant nothing to him.


As the medicinal cocktail carried on, my son was still jonesing for air. To see someone who can’t get a normal puff of that invisible juice we all lap up so casually, so automatically, so carelessly, is completely unnerving. I would have given him my breath if I could. Instead, I sent up prayers for his recovery as I held the mask of medicine up to his face.  But I wanted to do something more. Normally as a mom, I can come to the rescue with a Band-Aid, a kiss, an ice pack, or a little Neosporin. But in this case I felt helpless. I couldn’t assuage his alveoli.  I couldn’t give him my breath. There was nothing more I could do for him. Or was there?


So annoyed with the extra laundry, the stench of stale urine wafting up from various rooms around the house, and the random puddles, I have to admit, I had become more impatient and frustrated these days. I tried to stay composed, but this phase of purposeful pant wetting had gotten the better of me.  I found myself angry at him, yelling more often, criticizing, holding back smiles. Truthfully, I didn’t like who I was becoming around him.


Breathing was still a struggle. The home treatments were not enough; he clearly needed something stronger. “Daniel,” I said to my husband, a tone of gloom in my voice, “please pack up a few things, he needs to go to the Emergency Room.”


After they left, I had the space to think a little more clearly. I began talking to Hashem, thanking Him, and begging Him to heal my son.  I asked him to help me trust Him more, and to show me the good in this situation. “Hashem, nothing you do is random and it’s certainly not evil, so please reveal to me what this is all about!  Eli needs to breath, he needs air, and I want to help him but I don’t know how!”


And then BOOM - it hit me like a fist in the gut: The air in my son’s world isn’t right for him. It’s angry air. Toxic, even. My son needs new air. And I am the one who must change it, for I am the one producing it.


I immediately pictured myself being more loving, letting go of the frustration, and creating a new, more peaceful air around him. The image was beautiful and inspiring, and it was something I decided to absolutely commit to. With a newfound sense of empowerment and purpose I praised Hashem for this awesome wake up call.


“Thank you for jolting me out of bed in the middle of the night to tell me that I have to change! Thank you for caring enough about my son, me, and our relationship, to trigger an asthma attack as a means to teach me that I need to be a kinder, more patient mom. From now on, when he wets his pants, I will take a deep breath, love him unconditionally, and help him change him clothes. I won’t mention the pee or the smell and I certainly won’t get angry. After all, if I’m willing to sacrifice my breath for him, I might as well be willing to sacrifice my anger too.”


And miraculously enough, a few moments later, my husband called me from outside the hospital. “We’re turning around,” he said. “As soon as we got to the entrance of the ER Eli started breathing normally…. maybe it was the cool night air, or maybe the meds finally kicked in, I don’t know. But whatever it is, he’s better now and we’re coming home.”


Like the ultimate poet or artist, Hashem brilliantly communicates with us in symbols and metaphors. And if we ask sincerely, He will guide us to understand.


Fortunately, folks, as I transformed my criticism into breaths of air, Eli instinctively took it upon himself to stay dry!

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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  GREAT lesson! Thanks for sharing this.
Dassie12/1/2015 5:38:07 PM
  Thank you so much for this article -- what an inspiration!
David Fink12/1/2015 10:55:35 AM

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