Concussion: Slice of Life 1/31 #sol16

slice of life

My son has a concussion. He was knocked out for over a minute after an attempt to leap over a badminton net ended in a head-plant onto the gym floor.

He’ll be puny for awhile, the E.R. doctor promises me—and for a moment I imagine what puny might look like.

If he could just be puny and rest on the couch and whine and feel sorry for himself and demand ice cream and cool drinks like other kids.

The trauma moms in my online parenting group more accurately predict what early childhood trauma + concussion looks like:

“Expect more argumentativeness than usual, extreme mood swings and non-compliance.”

Oh. Okay. Argumentativeness, mood swings and non-compliance. This is where I live. I’ve got this.


My son is a terrible patient, combative and cranky.

“Wanna fight?” he asks.

“Nope,” I say. “But I bet you do.”

“Sure do!”

“Give me your best shot,” I say. “I can take it.”


Nothing brings the losses of his life to front and center quite like being sick, quite like needing a mom.


He wakes up.

“Don’t touch me,” he says. “Don’t look at me.”


“Don’t talk to me! Just don’t say anything.”

I sit in silence. I know how to wait until it passes.

He eventually throws his legs heavily off the couch and struggles to sit. He rubs his face.

“Mom feelings,” he says. “Sorry, Mom.”


For the first two days, every minute of healing is a battle. Every sip of water. Every bite of food. Every nap. Every painkiller. Every quiet activity.

He refuses to eat the lunch I cook.

“I’m not eating your food,” he says.

He complains about his head hurting but won’t accept a painkiller.

“Not from you,” he says.

“Would you like Dad to get it for you?”

“Shut up.”


Healing the concussion isn’t so different from healing the trauma. We dance these steps a thousand times a day. I am a tree. I am water. I am a butterfly. My body knows all the steps to avoid the fight.


Sometimes he asks the questions with words. Sometimes he asks me with his eyes. Why didn’t she take care of me like this? How can you love me so much when you’re nothing to me? Not my kin. Not my blood. How can I love you? And always this one. What do I have to do to make you stop? Can I ever make you stop like she stopped?

I answer these questions every day. Not with words. There aren’t words to explain how this works. Why this works. These are questions that have to be answered in the actions of bodies, in presence, in breath.


He sleeps on and off all day, and every time he wakes, I am there beside him. He looks panicked until he sees me. Then he smiles and nestles deeper into the blankets.

“Momma,” he murmurs.

“Baby,” I say.


Once he wakes up startled, his eyes wild, unfocused.

“Who are you?” he growls at me. For a moment, he really doesn’t know.

“I’m your mom who loves you,” I say. “Remember?”

He falls back against the pillow, sighs.

“Oh yeah.”

22 responses to “Concussion: Slice of Life 1/31 #sol16”

  1. I’m constantly astounded by the patient love you show to your son. Keeping a level head must be everything, but looking in it seems so hard. You love like the storm will always pass. Has it always been that way for you with you son?

  2. Wow. Your love for your son shines through in this post. He is so lucky to have you and your consistency. Your care and steadfastness shine through in this post.

  3. This is a lovely story of motherhood and sons. I’ve walked some of your walk, sons and concussions. There is an angst in a mother when we are pushed away yet we know deeply in their souls they want us to love them. Mothers know this and we weather the storm, holding fast for calmer days. On a writer’s note, I love that dialogue. 🙂

  4. You are the rock that this boy clings to, even as he tries to push you away. I hope the concussion heals quickly, but I fear it will be a long healing process. Poor boy, he is always healing.

  5. It’s just a keeping on, steady, being there. I’m sorry about the concussion, exacerbating the fights and the anger, Elisabeth. And I’m also glad the fall wasn’t worse. Hugs to you and to him this week.

  6. Thank you for sharing this moment with your son. I loved how you described your role dancing the steps: being water, a tree, a butterfly. What great imagery of your love and adaptability as his needs change and his visceral love for you.

  7. Oh my, what a beautiful way to express the pain, the sadness, and your deep desire to make it all go away.

  8. ” “I’m your mom who loves you,” I say. “Remember?” ”

    Oh Mothers and sons. I have so been there, concussions and all. My sons are in their 30s and I still say those exact words now and again when they forget themselves. Luckily, even if still annoyed with me, they smile back at me and acknowledge the truth of it. Beautifully penned. I love the patient inner voice.

  9. Love found its way into your slice – the recognition of the need of love that is, and the safe feeling one has knowing that there is love. You always take my breath away when you write about your journey with your son – a journey into love. Powerful stuff.

  10. My kids are not boys, they’ve not suffered concussions, or any of the other things your boy has suffered, but I know that feeling of being pushed away, of not knowing what to say. I know when my kids do this, it’s normal adolescent behavior and will pass. I love the way you wrote the dialog and the description. My heart goes out to you.

  11. Im a mother no sons, but I too have to respect your patience with his verbal assault on your love, only a Mother can understand. I hope he doesn’t have any lasting trauma to his brain that further agravates his day. Great first post thirty more to go.

  12. You amaze me with your patient love. Never knew or thought about the impact of concussions on children healing from relationship and life trauma. Hang in there, keep loving, and stay strong — and keep writing! Everyone needs a little extra healing, hugs (albeit virtual for now), and reassurance. So glad you are joining in for a month of writing. Your words and stories matter.

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