I was sick for most of the winter vacation. Really sick. Runny, sneezy, want-to-claw-out-my–itchy-eyes sick. For days. This is NOT how I wanted to spend my vacation. I imagined a long, restful break full of cooking, baking, laughing, skiing, long walks in the snow, dinner with friends, games by the fire…not exactly what I got. Instead, I was on the couch, tissue close at hand, too tired and grumpy and feeling sorry for myself to be pleasant company for anyone besides my family. They had no choice. It was everything I could do to not invite the whole Tahoe basin to my pity party.
Why is it that teachers always get sick on their vacations? Not fair. Who was the little creep who infected me with this?
The other bummer about being sick, besides thinking about all those sick days you’re NOT using, is that when you’re a mom, no one takes care of you – and you still have to take care of them.
Actually, now that my kids are teens it’s much easier. Those baby years were rough-I guess I do have it easier now. I don’t have to change diapers, rock them to sleep or read Curious George for the millionth time. But they still needed to be fed, and in the snow, grocery shopping is a huge ordeal. I wasn’t up for that at all. No endless circling the parking lot for a space, slogging into the store, pushing the shopping cart through the snow (that’s a fun one – have you tried it?) or heaving over-packed grocery bags through the four feet of snow to our door. So, I did what any mom would do: I sent my son to the store. On foot.
Ok, it’s not as bad as it sounds. There is a mom-n-pop type store just down the snowy icy, street. He can’t drive, but he can walk.
I slapped $20 in his hand, gave him a strict lecture about walking on the highway versus the road (I told him to choose the road-he’s quick, but jumping out of the path of a sliding car is not worth it), and sent him off. It was daylight. It was just down the street. It was just for some eggs.
I watched him walk away, headphones over his ears, smile on his face. Happy to be helping mama, or happy to be out of the house?
30 minutes later and it was getting dark. No sign of teenager, eggs, or anything else that would alleviate my anxiety. I was ready to call out the patrol. But, I was sick, on the couch, and in my bathrobe. I had to fight my natural urge to hurl myself through snow banks to go find him. My baby was out in the snow. In the dark. Sensing my impending eruption, my husband volunteered.
As he geared up, amazing thoughts flashed through my mind. Images of my son taking a detour, going to the highway for a shortcut, bounding through snow banks. I imagined the sirens racing down the highway on the way to pick him up, the phone call, the hospital…I was way gone into future-trip land.
Just when I felt I was about to burst, something dark caught my eye. There he was. I spied him out the window, sauntering down the street, carton of eggs in hand, and headphones on ears. He wore a huge smile on his face.
I exhaled all my anxiety, and tried to use the next sixty seconds figuring out how to handle myself. I couldn’t yell. I wanted to scream and release all my rage and fury about what he’d put me through.
I fought the urge to run out into the snow and throttle him. I figured the best bet was to play it cool, act as if I wasn’t worried.
He walked through the door, stomping the snow from his boots. “Mom, I spent some time down at the lake. It was amazing. The sky was so beautiful. I took pictures.”
My heart melted along with the clumps of snow on the hardwood floors. What a fool I am. What a silly, foolish worrywart. What a paranoid, over-protective parent.
I wanted to give him a lecture on the dangers of wearing headphones, but his sheer joy took it out of me.
“You’d be so proud of me, mom. I checked the expiration dates. One carton expired tomorrow, so I didn’t buy it.” I could feel him growing up as he spoke.
You’re right, Cam, I thought as I hugged him close. You have no idea how proud.
Through Cameron’s eyes: