The longest hours for a parent are those spent in the hospital. 

There are 60 minutes in an hour, 3,600 seconds in an hour, and 24 hours in a day. 

If you have been the parent of a child in the hospital, there seem to be a thousand seconds in a minute and billions of minutes in an hour. 

The clock ticks forward, then ticks back, and the walls grow whiter. All the while, your heart rate is louder than the minute hand and stronger than your knees. Time knows no bounds in these walls. 

If you’ve been there before, you know. You remember. You remember it more clearly than the day your child was born.

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The day you waited on a diagnosis. The day you feared for answers and results. The day you watched as your own flesh and blood begged you to feel better. The day your child was poked and prodded, and you wished so badly you could take their pain away and be hooked up to the machines for them. The day you had to fight because you knew something wasn’t right. 

Last year, my son was hospitalized three times in one month. It was the longest month of my life.

I’m amazed at how little sleep and few meals one person needs to survive. A mother is fueled more by love than she is food. It took countless doctors to finally figure out what was wrong, and by then. I was hanging on by a thread, and that thread was my son. 

I remember having a few accidents as a child and my stepdad was frantic; meanwhile, my mom played it totally cool saying it’s probably fine as she rushed me to the doctor. I get it now. She knew I needed stitches but said doctors had better tools and cooler bandaids. 

Because that’s the thing about mothers. We wear this mask of bravery to keep our kids calm and collected, meanwhile, every fiber in our own body is spiraling out of control. It’s just a mask, you see, for we are only human. 

Our children cannot see us weak. They cannot feel us become defeated or worried. They cannot see us fall apart.

They live off what emotions we put out there, and only a mother is capable of exuding hope, smiles, and comfort while slowly shutting down herself. It’s a miracle switch, and you’ve either been shown it or showed it yourself. 

If you walk into a children’s hospital, take a careful look around. You’ll see mothers next to their children’s beds, playing puzzles, painting fingernails, decorating walls with dinosaur decals and Googling ad nauseum treatment plans.

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In the lobby, outside those enormous doors where the sunshine meets the air conditioning you’ll see herprayerful and letting it all out.

God made a mother with knees for praying and for standing tall. He made her a warrior.

If you want to see the impossible done, look for a mother. When disaster strikes, no one has unmatched valor like a mother. We may run out of tears, but we will never, run out hope. 

There are no hours longer than those with an ill child, and there is no greater strength than that of a mother in the waiting room. 

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.