The season to GIVE: thanks, love, gifts…and germs!
Between Emma’s clear runny nose, green snotty nose, raspy cough, low-grade fever and moaning groaning whining, she’s had this “germ” as long as I can remember. I know when she’s not feeling well. She wants nothing but to be my arms all. day. long. For me, it’s one of those love-hate relationship things…of course I want my baby girl to want me ALL the time, but seriously, every single minute of the day???? I know it’s my job as her mommy to make her feel better. So, I snuggle her and hold her tight. I “baby” her even though she’s a toddler, but like our favorite book reads: “as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” I fix her favorite treats and let her watch Barney just one more time because it makes her smile (I love those smiles), and it gives me a chance to go pee in peace! All these wonderful and loving things we do for our little, sick kiddos.
So, let’s turn the tables. Last week, when my husband, Marc, left for a week of work training in Mobile, Emma and I had the whole house to ourselves (like we normally do when daddy’s at work). We played and danced and sang like a bunch of little girls at a slumber party! It was so much fun! After bath and bedtime routine, I put Emma down to enjoy a little “me” time before my own bedtime routine: dinner, a glass of wine and some good drama TV. Not even five minutes into my “really good, not your typical Monday-Thursday glass of wine” did I get a really bad tummy cramp, chills and the urge to throw up. It wasn’t the wine…and to this day I’m still not sure if it was stomach flu or food poisoning, but man! Once the throwing up started, it wouldn’t stop. I made about a dozen trips to the toilet and finally on the last round, there was literally nothing else in my tummy to come up, so my body and I agreed to call it quits.
Who takes care of the mommies when the mommies are the sick kiddos?
I sat there on the bathroom floor thinking, “now what?” Where was my cool washcloth? Who was going to bring me 7-up and crackers? Who was going to help me get back to bed? Not sure if any of you have thrown up lately, but it’s a tiring form of exercise – my abs were so sore the next day from all the dry heaving! I was physically exhausted, and emotionally…alone.
I wanted MY mommy. So, I called her. Hearing her voice and listening to her tell me what to do next eased my physical pain, but it did nothing for my emotional sadness. I still had that longing to curl up on the couch next to her in my favorite blanket while she rubbed my forehead and spoon-fed me chicken broth.
The Mommy Card
It was during the many hours that I lay awake in bed that night sobbing, wincing, cursing, and wanting for my mommy that I realized I had long ago traded in my child tears, needs and whines for my “mommy card.” You know, like the “man card” that all of the men in our lives cherish and protect so much, and sometimes revoke from one another for un-manly transgressions? This coveted “mommy card” does not come in a special mailer with endless perks and no spending limit. No, instead, it comes with a huge amount of self-sacrifice and humility. It is a membership that you sign up for when you enter mommy-hood. You don’t get any special offers or incentives, earn any reward points or miles. You subscribe to an unwritten contract that knows no limits and cannot be broken. You remain a member that must pay your dues for at least 18 years (lifetime, actually). Membership carries a heavy obligation that is often difficult to see beyond. “Why would anyone obligate themselves to this kind of self-sacrifice?” You may, like me, find yourself sometimes wondering if it was worth it. These feelings are okay. We’re human. As such, we have needs. But, as mommies, we have to suppress these needs for the sake of our kiddos’ well being.
And, that’s just what I had to do. I sucked it up, grabbed some water from the fridge and headed back to bed, praying that I could keep it down and get some much needed rest. Sure, I woke up tired as a dog and feeling like I was hit by a bus, but mommy-duty called. Emma was ready to start her day, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, at 5:30am! I put a smile on my face and suppressed the urge to stay in bed all day. It was like any other day: the laundry got put away, the dishes washed and dinner started. Although the countdown to nap time couldn’t come fast enough!
However, mommy-hood is not all doom and gloom. You didn’t sell your soul to a slave trader. You made a choice to grow up, to live for someone else. Your reward: priceless, unimaginable joy and love. This reward comes with establishing yourself as a worthy “card-carrying member.” And, after you’ve built up your credit rating through responsible actions and noteworthy contributions, then, and only then, can you enjoy the great perks of this membership card. These perks come in the form of strength, courage and confidence. They are the fruits of your labor as a hard-working mommy, and they do not come easy. They are earned through your time in the trenches caring little for yourself and a lot for your little one(s). Embrace them. Cherish them. Go to the greatest of lengths to protect and honor your “mommy card, “just as those men in our lives do for their “man cards.”
What rewards have you experienced from earning your Mommy Card?