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The Power of One Young Boy


Jenn Van Massenhoven

“I wish you weren’t so sick all the time Mommy!  Then we could do more stuff together.”

It was the only time in two years my son complained about my health problems.  He had plenty of reason to be angry, especially in the beginning.  When I gave birth to his sister (December, ’99) he had pneumonia and was feeling miserable.  I went for a check up one morning and didn’t come home for three days.  I had one angry four year old on my hands when I did get home!

Then, in the following two years, I had 5 day surgeries.  Each one required a six week healing period and seemed to make things worse.  I felt horrid most of the time.  At the time of his complaint I was recovering from a hysterectomy and trying to cope with a Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF).  A VVF is a tunnel between the bladder and the vagina.  This means urine leaking from the bladder in to and out of the vagina.  I was required to wear a catheter for three months while I waited for repair surgery.  My activities were drastically limited because it was a very messy thing, not to mention the catheter poking and rubbing me in extremely uncomfortable ways.   It was also a very stressful time for my family, kids and spouse alike.

Through the last twenty-eight months my son has been strong, brave and understanding, even through Mommy being gone for days at a time, twice in 3 months.  A sensitive boy, Ben has always made an effort to cheer me when I was down, even as a baby.  I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia when he was six months old.  Ben has always been patient through all my ups and downs.

When his sister was born he became even more helpful, I didn’t think it was possible.  He has helped with diaper changes and bottles, bringing me stuff so I didn’t have to get it.  He kept quiet if I needed silence and entertains his sister, most of the time.  He is a wonderful big brother.  He adores her and has been a big help in keeping her happy no matter where they were or what was going on.

Benjamin has helped me to heal in many ways.  He made life easier physically and no matter how cranky I got he always had a hug and an, “I love you Mommy.”   He has grown up faster than I wanted him to have to.  I often think he doesn’t know how much I love him.  I have a very hard time expressing it to him, especially as he gets older.  His was not what you’d call a planned pregnancy.  It was a rough time, one I wasn’t prepared for, but his strength fed mine and we prevailed.  Ben is the light of my life and my inspiration; I hope he comes to know it.

Throughout our life together, Ben and I, he has always been the strong one, the sensitive one and I have always taken more than I could give. I say it with pride for him and shame for me.  It’s supposed to be the other way around.

He has not only helped me heal but he has forced me to change many of my views about life, for the better.  Without him, my little surprise, I wouldn’t be who I am today.  I believe children, Ben in particular, are angels meant to teach us the lessons we must learn before we pass on.  Children wield a great power.  Respect it, learn from them.  I thank you Benjamin.

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