The easiest part of being a Mom is giving birth. Once that child starts moving about the world he will be faced with millions of dangers and problems that you cannot foresee or help him figure out. You might think it will get easier as your child gets more independent – but it doesn’t. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Just when you think you have a corner on this whole parenting thing, you realize you actually have no idea what you’re doing.
I’ve been a Mom for almost 17 years. You would think I would know how to handle simple situations, like a sick kid – but I don’t. We have had all sorts of illnesses from allergies to strep throat to warts and everything in between. You’d think I would be able to see the signs, diagnose the problem, and get on with our lives. But I can’t. Every time one of the children says they don’t feel well, I wonder if I should take them seriously. I wonder if they’re really sick or just grumpy or hungry. I wonder if I should cancel all activities and send them to bed or just tell them to walk it off.
Most of the time, I hope they’re not too sick to ruin my plans. Usually they’re sicknesses are only really bad when I have important things going on. Kids are life ruiners that way.
Once when Taryn was in kindergarten she told us her tummy hurt while we were out to dinner. Dallas and I told her she had to finish her meal. We were frustrated over constantly throwing away food and wasting money. This was back while we were in graduate school and money was tight. (Not so tight that we didn’t go out to dinner – first world problems.) She begrudgingly finished her chicken strips and fries and we went home. Taryn made a beeline for the bathroom saying she had to go potty. We heard her sit down on the toilet, then immediately projectile vomit all over the wall.
Ten years later I have kindergarteners again. I still make the same rookie mistakes. From the moment Jackson woke up this morning he was whiney. He ate his cereal and got dressed, but complained that his nose was stuffy. He’s had a little snot and cough for a few days. Nothing major, it’s still cold here so I figured it was just the weather. Today was the end of the year field day at school – what kid doesn’t want to go to that?
I volunteered to help run a game. I saw Jackson and Reese a couple of times. Reese was having fun. Jackson was not having fun. He complained about the long lines for the jumpy houses and was by himself every time I saw him. Usually he’s the life of the party. About an hour and a half in his teacher told me he was inside shivering and had told her it was, “all my Mom’s fault for making me wear this jacket instead of my heavy coat. Now I’m cold and it’s all my Mom’s fault.” I cornered another Mom into taking my place at the game station and went inside to offer him my jacket. (I was sweating because I’d spent the whole morning chasing tennis balls for elementary school kids.)
He didn’t want my jacket. He was grumpy. And he had a fever. Frick on a stick. The school nurse looked at him and said he might have an impetigo sore on his lip. (We thought it was a cold sore from his runny nose.) I had walked up to the school this morning, so I had to carry him home. He’s 43 pounds – I know that because they weighed him at the Doctor’s office three hours later…after his fever spiked and the crap on his lip started festering.
My arms are sore and I still don’t have this parenting thing figured out. I probably never will.