On a morning this month, my 5-year-old daughter had surgery to correct a trigger thumb. The days leading up to the surgery illuminated perhaps the single largest difference between me and my Catholic husband and what we believe (or don’t) and how we pray (or don’t). My husband believes in God and he prays to God in ways that more than once he has told me that I do not understand. In the pre-surgery days he never specifically mentioned his prayers but I knew he was doing so and I couldn’t help feeling both comforted and also somehow wrong that I was not sharing or contributing with my own.
But it wasn’t until quite a bit after the surgery was finally over that I realized that I never prayed even during the surgery itself. Not even once. Instead, I spent the 39 minutes in between kissing her forehead in the O.R. and when the surgeon came and told me everything went perfectly, just trying to breathe in and out. I’m sure that if it had occurred to me in the moment that I would have, at the very least as a “cover the bases” prayer, it just honestly never occurred to me in those waiting moments. Admitting this makes me feel like a bad mother. It reminds me of the recurring fear I had while I was pregnant with her that they took her away because I forgot to feed her. I had done every single thing else to care for a baby but I had forgotten that one little detail.
I planned very hard for this surgery; getting it off from work, making all of the pre-op calls and appointments, picking the hospital, answering all of the hospital’s questions, getting her records, planning what she would do and where I would be and what she would wear and what she would eat, making the advanced plans that I be able to go into the O.R. with her so I could sing her a lullaby as she went under. I just forgot to stop and pray.