One Crumpled Tissue

Perhaps it takes courage to raise children…

-John Steinbeck

My mom always has a tissue.  No matter what.  In her pockets or in her purse.  If she has on a coat, she likely has tissues in her pants pockets and her coat pockets.  She’s sort of a beautiful, well-prepared Goddess like that, my mom.

I grew up with brothers and now I’m the mom of boys.  I just don’t have the “well-prepared Goddess” thing down.  Like, at all.  I’m more of a stumbling, fumbling mess, cruising around town in my Trash Can Curb Check Machine, dancing a bit too much at whatever song happens to be playing on the radio.

And I feel, at times, like I will never be prepared.

I’m sort of famous for running into the store for “one quick second” with a baby in my arms and realizing he’s had a blow out at the exact moment I remember I left the diaper bag in the car.  I’ve locked my keys in the car so many times that I just have to celebrate when I manage to do it without the engine running.  I trip.  I drop things.  Every now and again I even swear.

My mother never swore.  I swear.

On a recent week, I was so tired I couldn’t remember my own phone number when I called to make an appointment to get the Trash Can Curb Check Machine serviced.  I wasn’t sleeping because I have a baby.  But I also wasn’t sleeping because my son who has to live his life with cerebral palsy was struggling.  And when a mother’s child isn’t happy, a mother cannot rest.  She cannot stop thinking, turning over metaphorical rocks and shaking metaphorical bushes looking for answers that may or may not come.

In addition to my boy’s horribly heart-wrenching, no good, very bad week, I’d been vomited on multiple times by my youngest.  On a Friday, this frumpy un-Goddess delivered her oldest children to their various schools and stopped at the grocery store to  grab something “really quickly” with baby in tow.

It was the first really cold morning of the season and as I buckled my baby into the cart, I noticed he was badly in need of a tissue.  As I realized his diaper bag was still in the car, I bit my lip to help me swallow a very large swear word that threatened to come out of my mouth.

My baby smiled at me.  A beautiful, snotty smile.  One deep breath for this mama and my hand found its way into my pocket.

There in my pocket was one single crumpled tissue.

I wiped his nose triumphantly and (this is key) shoved the crumpled tissue back into my pocket.  (Scientists are still studying this, but I think my mom’s tissues were the same ones, used over and over again.)

At the end of a very rough few days, days that left me exhausted and overwhelmed, I found solace in the thought that maybe a bit of that beautiful, well-prepared Goddess mama had rubbed off on me.  Truth be told, I’m starting to realize the big secret about moms, but I can only share it if you PROMISE to keep it under your hat.

The bottom line is this… Moms are human.  We actually aren’t Goddesses, not even my amazing mom.  We are overtired, overworked, overscheduled, and we carry so much love around in our hearts that it’s a wonder we can bear the weight of it.

That moment with my baby at the grocery store at the end of a hard week could’ve been the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It wasn’t.  Because moms keep going.  Moms push through.  And, if they get lucky, they find a crumpled up tissue at just the right moment.

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