Moms need other moms. It's a simple fact, and a complicated truth. Because it's hard for moms to ask for help, to admit we are drowning. But once in a while, the white flag needs to be raised. Even our bones feel weary and we get prone to disillusionment, like when a mob of parents stampede children at an Easter egg hunt, trying to get the most candy.
My working mom friends want someone to inform the cold and flu season that its time is up. Our kids are still dropping like flies and it's a bad strain this year. We need the illnesses to stay within their cycles! Allergy season's biggest punch is around the corner. We've exhausted our back-up plans. My friend Elise said, “I had no choice but to ask my mother-in-law for help and now she's extracting her payment in blood. Two days of babysitting my sick kids equals six months of extreme and unquestioned intrusiveness and all can do is smile and be grateful.”
Last weekend, my oldest daughter went to a weekend camp sponsored by her school. The camp was cold at night, hot during the day, and the bare bones accommodations provide a place to sleep. Period. I picked her up and she informs me in a nasally and gravelly voice, “My throat hurts.” We stopped to get over-the-counter medications. I ran her a vanilla foam bath. I made a homemade pasta dinner. She went to bed early with enough Mucinex in her system to kill a baby rhinoceros. This is ‘thwarting a potential illness 101' for moms.
She woke up the next morning and said, “My throat still hurts.” She had no fever and didn't want to miss her math test. I said, “Call me in an hour and tell me how you are.” She texted me that her throat hurts but she can finish the day. After school, wants to tell the track coach she is sick so he'll know she's not faking. I text her back, “I need you to get well. No track.” I'm not sure if she is exhausted or sick. Later in the day, she texts, “Kylie had strep and still came to school last week.” Ugh. I have four kids, two dogs and my husband is traveling. I don't have time for a strep epidemic to hit my house. I call in some reinforcements and leave work.
My mom friends rally to help me. I spend two hours in Urgent Care while they pick up my other three kids. My daughter tests positive for strep throat. To be honest, I have to ask what it is. It is a bacterial infection. It is contagious. She takes the shot to the butt over the prescription medicine. One trip to the pharmacy saved! I celebrate. Just kidding. My thoughts travel down some random alleyways. “I've got to fetch my kids. They've missed two sports practices and piano lessons. A plus is we caught the strep early. A minus is she will be quarantined to her bedroom. Little sister moving into my bed. All bedding washed. I was serious about sticking to a diet this week. Pizza is now on my diet because I always need pizza when I slip into survival mode.” My daughter snaps me back to reality. “Mom has anyone ever died from pain? I feel like there are razor blades in my throat.”
I hate it when my kids are sick. My worry sometimes spirals into irrational thoughts and everyone ends up micromanaged.
I get home. My little girl immediately begins to complain about the hand raiser in her class. No one else gets the chance to show what they know. The teacher always calls on the same kids. I tell her that she's a great student and she shouldn't worry about the hand raisers. I'm secretly stewing about it though. Why do the hand raisers get to dominate the classes?
I look down at my bitten nails. I keep cheerfulness in my tone. Thank goodness my kids are not observant unless it concerns their electronics, friends or clothes budget. Otherwise they would notice the slight eye tic. My friend calls. She is between projects and having a tough day. She says, “Let's meet and catch up with a glass of wine.” I'm drowning but agree. She texts, “I look like a wreck.” I text, “I won't wear make-up so you'll recognize me.” She texts, “I can't wash and blow dry my hair or my kids get suspicious I'm going somewhere and bar me from leaving.” I text, “Okay, we are mom ninjas in disguise so we can carve out some free time.”
We meet at a little wine bar. About fifteen thousand words pour out of us. We're venting about all of the injustices, challenges and trials we've faced, and for the most part, mastered. Her kind eyes look into my warrior mom soul and pull out the words and insights. I admit, “I hate the hand raisers that always get called on and star in every school event!” She says, “I hate the moms who prepare perfectly perfect homemade snacks and then my store-bought cookies get put on a back table of shame. I work and don't have time to bake things from scratch.” I say, “The only time I liked Martha Stewart was when she was in jail.” Then, like every other time, we start laughing and can't stop. There it is— the release. It's a reset button.
Then we look at our phones filled with texts from our children, asking when we will be home. No one else can handle the bedtime routine like the mom. I go home and my kids are waiting. All day, they were at school and not missing me one bit, but they always feel better when I'm in the house. I guess it's ‘just in case.'
I really value how moms can save each other when we are drowning. It comes in so many forms. Today it was picking up my children and an evening cocktail to share stories of today's challenges. Then I went home to be the best ‘just in case' mom to my kids.