An Ounce of Prevention, or All the Things That Don’t Happen

When John was born, he had the wobbliest head. I mean, that thing couldn’t stay in one place if it tried. It wasn’t trying, for the record. It was tedious work keeping the head lined up with the body, not too far to the right or left, front or back. All the veteran parents shout to the newbies, “Support the head! Support the head!” as if it might just tip too far and roll right off. 
There were plenty of times where I had control, where I knew where the head wanted to wobble so I secured my hand behind that tiny noggin, and there it stayed. Some days it got away from me though. A sudden spark through his not-quite-formed neurological pathways and jolt! There goes the head again.
One hand in front, one behind the head. Good mama. 


One day I was holding him on the couch, and he was doing the bouncy head thing like usual, but all of a sudden, his whole body flung backwards. It was all I could to keep him from crashing out of my grip and smashing his head on the coffee table. But I caught him, wobbly head, spazzy body and all.
And at that moment, I realized that I saved him from a solid head knocking, a significant, nasty ouch that never happened because of my alertness and adept parental response system. And you know what? He is never going to know about it.
There were countless moments like these, which changed as he grew. Like all the times I put a pillow down near the couch so he wouldn’t bonk his head on the furniture, or when I covered the underside of the coffee table with my hand as he crawled underneath so he wouldn’t end up with a goose egg on his forehead on his way out.  
He’s like a born stunt man with no training. Here we are, the parents, flailing after the kids, holding our breath and trying to prevent severe maiming or death. It’s exhausting. And he’ll never know how much breath I lost, the touchdown catch dives across carpet, down hallways or through the living room, all to save him from himself.

This little dude is hardcore. And he keeps me running. 
He only knows about the times he does fall, when the chair he is standing on is more tilty than normal, and off he goes. Or when he careens through the nursery and pops his head on the table. The ouch turns rainbow colors and swells up nice within minutes.
Weeping ensues. It’s tragic for all of us. I missed one. I catch a million “almosts”, but this one was an “actual”. 
But what of all the times it doesn’t happen? When I caught John’s wobbly head that day on the couch, I realized there are a million times where I almost get hurt or emotionally wounded, where a bruise or a major injury, even death, were sure to happen. And then Father God or his angels step in, puts a hand behind my wobbly head, prop me up while I’m stepping, and then I’m okay.
I don’t even know about these times though. It’s prevention, and prevention never gets the cred it deserves.
Who knows all the diseases you avoided by taking your daily vitamin and exercising 30 minutes a day? Who knows the car accident you avoided because you turned around to be sure the oven was off? Who knows the falls and bangs and near-death experiences you’ve narrowly escaped because your very capable Dad and his angels were toodling right alongside you, ready for another jerky moment where you lost control? Think of the stunts you still pull as an adult, you know, applying makeup or making phone calls or composing your latest novel…while driving. How many times have we been saved and yet we’ll never know? 

Yet it’s the wounds that do happen, as rare as they are, the rejections, the “No” answers to tearful prayer, the rude lady in line at the grocery store or the friend who hurt our feelings, the jobs we don’t get, the phone call that “it’s cancer”, sad, long nights where we’re alone. It’s all the stuff we don’t like, the wounds and pain we do feel – these we remember. Whether it’s his fault or not, God gets the credit for these things.
No, God never gets credit for the prevention. I think he should.
I wasn’t good at recognizing God’s protection before I was a mom. I blamed God for the bad stuff and didn’t see all the preventing he was breathlessly performing with such skill. Now that I am a mom, I see it much more, or I simply assume it’s happening. “I’m alive, aren’t I? It must be working.”
I can see now that there are a hundred almost-bad things that could have but did not go down in any given day. Too many to count. I’ll never know about them, but I know God is good so I know he is keeping the almostfrom being actual.
So thank you, God. Thank you for the excellent protection job you’ve been doing. Thank you for keeping me and my family safe again and again and again. Thank you for your hand around our little heads and tiny, fragile bodies, preventing, preventing, preventing. I hope you get more credit for all the diving after us that you do. Thank you. 

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