"When the Band-aid Doesn't Fix It" by Grace Gallagher, Executive Director

You’re at the park with your four year old, enjoying the sunshine, happy to hear the sounds of preschoolers on the playground. The children run from the slide, to the swings, to the monkey bars, and back again. It’s a good day. Then you hear it – a child’s cry, and you know that it’s YOUR child crying. He has tripped and fallen, and busted open his knee just two centimeters from last week’s unfortunate incident with a scooter that got a little too much momentum on the hill. You go to him, pick him up, and sit him down on the picnic table. You grab a band-aid from your bag, lean over, and give his sweet little knee a kiss. He gives you a hug, jumps down, and runs right back to the slide before his tears are even dry. Ah, the power of a band-aid and a mother’s kiss.

But what happens when the band-aid doesn’t fix it? Did your kiss lose its magical powers? What happens when your child can’t point to where it hurts because it hurts everywhere? We go into mommy action mode. We spend hours with our most trusted advisor – Google.  We worry, we get frustrated, and we try everything to fix it, to make it better. We would give anything for a band-aid for this. We want our magic back, when our kiss made it all better.

I am not an expert. I am a mom who has life experience searching for all these answers. I did my best to parent a child who hurt everywhere, but there is no band-aid for depression and anxiety, and I couldn’t fix it.  But my child taught me something more powerful:  she didn’t want me to fix it.  She needed me to listen, to truly be present, and not be ready with an answer that began with, “If you did …., then you might feel better.”

I learned the power of real presence through my daughter. I learned I did not have to have all the answers. Navigating through getting the right help, and making the right decisions for the health and well-being of your child, is hard, confusing, and worrisome. So let’s all practice advice we would give to any one of our children. Take a breath and count to ten. Instead of trying to find the band-aid that will stick, try sitting down with your child, with your only intention being to listen, regardless of what they say. Breathe, listen, and be present. Accept the fact that we will make mistakes.  But you will pick yourself back up, brush away the dirt that scrapes your heart as a parent, run back to the slide, and try again.

Katherine Cook