The Ear Infection

I do not feel mom guilt often. Not like I used to. When it happens now, it’s usually over something ridiculous. The entire spectrum of ridiculous is fair game. This is about the time I felt mom guilt last summer. An experience I think some moms who’ve raised young kids can relate to. A few moms shared their own stories with me to help make me feel better, but I still felt pretty awful about it for a couple of weeks. Like really awful.

It was a Sunday evening in July. My 9 year old kiddo said his ear was hurting. I gave him some pain reliever and he was fine. He slept through the night, didn’t complain of it hurting but said it was a little achy. He has this little habit sometimes of scratching inside his ear (he’s bruised it before), so I’m thinking he probably irritated his ear from scratching. We are scheduled to leave for our beach vacation in a few days, so I’m monitoring this situation closely. He’s going to camp, he’s carrying on like his ear doesn’t hurt at all, kiddo tells me his ear feels so much better, we go on vacation…and everything is fine! He’s pounded by waves for hours a day, swimming in the pool when the sun goes down, hunting for sand crabs, having slumber parties with his cousins. All the things.

We had the BEST time!

The night before we leave to come home he tells me his ear is bothering him again. So I give him some pain reliever…but this time he wakes up 6 hours later with an ear ache still. As long as we timely managed the relief, he was totally fine. Monday morning he wants to go to camp. I let the camp director know the ear sitch, and he had an appointment with the ENT later that afternoon. I went home to work for a couple of hours, then I had my first mammogram appointment. Camp called during the appointment, early dismissal for the kiddo. It was time for more medicine…

In my opinion, ear aches are crown status for being the worst. Like ibuprofen and Tylenol doesn’t cut it for me. The tiniest ear ache makes me wince and cry, and all I want is prescription ear drops to make the pain go away. Debilitating pain. And here’s my kid just bossing through life like a champ. I told him how brave and strong I thought he was. How amazed and impressed I was. I was honestly fascinated by the experience. It was very much a combination of WOW how was he able to function so normally and WOW how is this even possible. By the grace of God (seriously), I was able to get him a same day appointment with the ENT. I called first thing the Monday morning after we were home and they had an appointment that afternoon. This doctor is usually a two week out kind of thing. My poor guy had a really, really bad outer ear infection with about 50% swelling. HOLY OUCH! His doctor told him he has a really high pain tolerance and he needs to pay attention when something doesn’t feel right. And his sweet soul replied “yes ma’am, but that’s what I did” … my heart just sank to my feet. I felt awful. OMG, I felt so bad. We left with 4 prescriptions and a follow-up appointment in two weeks.

Life presented us with an interesting next several weeks. Fortunately, the ear healed perfectly and became the least of our worries. I was a stickler for him wearing the ear plug through Labor Day (3 weeks), doctor’s orders. Suffering through 9yo peer pressure was my retribution for feeling so awful. I felt so bad y’all. I cried several times. My best friend reassured me this was not controllable, not my fault, the problem was being fixed, and there was nothing more to be done about it. These things are just going to happen sometimes.

Be mindful in the future you live with the Hulk.

She was absolutely correct. I forgave myself and moved on. But I don’t think there’s anything that can make you forget that sunken mama heart guilt. That gut punch is permanently trapped inside you. The forgiveness is what allows you to control the guilt because you can’t martyr yourself forever. And forgiveness gives you a safe place to harness the guilt while you work through it. If you’ve experienced mom guilt recently, I feel for you. It sucks, it’s not a fun place to be. If you’ve been letting the mom guilt consume you, it’s ok to be vulnerable and let it go. Those feelings of guilt are memories never leaving your soul. You can visit them anytime rent free. Just don’t live in them! You’re a great mom. And you’re a warrior.

Don’t forget to give yourself some grace too.


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