I thought it would be so much easier with my second.
I thought a temperature of 104.2 wouldn't send me reeling, frantically calling the triage nurse at one in the morning. I thought I'd be more prepared for the tumbles down the stairs, the fingers caught in doors and the face plants in the front lawn.
But it all still shook me, and I needed someone to share that with. So let's talk a little about friendship and connection and why moms should scatter it willingly. You never know who's desperate for encouragement and just looking for someone to throw a little her way.
It all started with a high fever
One day, my son started running a high fever. He was also whining and pulling at his right ear, so I assumed he had an ear infection. But then he developed a little rash, and I wasn't so sure.
I made an appointment and took him in. My daughter was off from preschool that day, so she tagged along too. We bundled up and took off in the early spring chill. She was almost three and he was barely nine months, scooting backward but not crawling.
My hair wasn't washed and my top was milk stained. I was that level of exhausted that moms get when they're unable to really enter that delicious REM sleep until around 3:30 in the morning, only to be woken two hours later by babies ready to start the day.
I don't even think we'd eaten anything for breakfast. We woke up, he was blazing, so there we were.
After waiting on the doctor for 45 minutes, spending one hour in a pediatrician room that felt more like a jail cell with every passing second, and subjecting my son to a swab up his nose, we had the results - flu.
I broke down
I cry at the drop of a hat. It's a mannerism I picked up from my dad. We both tear up at commercials and can't make it through an episode of Ellen clear-eyed.
So when I got the news, I felt the warm liquid pool in the inner creases of my eye. I looked down at the floor so the nurse wouldn't see. She filed a prescription and said everything would be fine.
Of course it would. But mamas feel everything their babies feel, multiplied by, oh I don't know, a bazillion percent.
I took both kids to the pharmacy, still looking like a grease pit and probably smelling like one too.
I just wanted to go through the drive-thru, grab the syringe and medicine bottle and get back home. I wanted to lie my son in my big bed, pat him with a cool washcloth and let him nap in the crook of my arm like he used to.
I pulled up to the window, got my wallet ready and told the woman behind the glass my last name.
Maybe it was my smudged eye makeup, still there from the night before.
Maybe it was my mom bun, which was now a mom mound.
Maybe it was the crumpled McDonald's bag on the passenger's seat and the old, coffee-stained mug in the console.
The pharmacist locked eyes with me and asked if I was OK. She had one of those faces you just trust, and I spilled everything to her. About my sick, sleeping son in the backseat, my worry over his health and my general anxiety that I wasn't doing something right as a mom.
She counted my change and told me about her own son. He's 15 and about to drive. She didn't even want him to get his permit because she couldn't stand the thought of him on the road. She was so nervous about him taking that next step without her. She said she wished she could keep him home forever, where he'd be OK.
For a minute, we weren't making a transaction. I wasn't the customer, and she wasn't the professional. We were just two moms who were really worried about our sons.
Two moms who loved our babies more than anything, and who wondered if we were doing enough.
Two moms who desperately, even without really knowing it, needed to talk to someone, to another mom who'd been there.
Raise each other up
Grab ahold of those moments, mamas. When you can share in the struggles, get down in the trenches and raise each other up. That's the beauty of motherhood. It isn't a sole proprietorship, and you don't have to manage it alone.
Find those chances to connect, and run headfirst into them as freely as you can. Chances are, you need it, and so does she.
See that mom pushing the giant grocery cart shaped like a racecar? Let her go in front of you, and ask her what she named her babies.
That woman in line at the coffee shop, diaper bag on one arm and a sleeping child wrapped tight to her chest? Tell her how many java chip fraps you've had this week, and how you should buy stock in the place.
Notice the other moms at preschool drop-off? Find the one without anyone to talk to, and tell her you like her shoes. Compliments lead to conversation, you know.
Then leave each interaction a little better than you entered it. Share freely, ask eagerly and love deeply. We're all in this together.