Shhhh…Don’t Say it!

It’s funny how just speaking about a subject makes it happen. I suppose that is why people often scan the room for some wood to knock as they are about to share some information. Well, it would seem that I should have been knocking on wood with one hand and typing with the other as I was posting the blog from last week about going to the Doctors. You see, I write this from my son’s hospital room.

Child presents with tummy bug which does NOT warrant a trip to the doc. There is no point in dragging a bucket carrying and pull-up wearing kid around town just to be told to try to get some fluids into him. But, as days progressed and he worsened, it was clear that the time had come. Besides, it was Friday afternoon at that point, so it was time to act. Everyone knows the medical system irrationally thinks people don’t need health care on weekends. Medical services aside, I’m currently suffering through no cable, no wireless Internet, and the shop that sells the celeb gossip mags is also closed. Why did his hospital stay have to happen over a weekend? Who is going to care for the care-giver??

Our doc closes up shop at noon on Fridays, so first stop was the drop-in clinic. I was instructed to head straight to the emergency room: do not pass go, do not collect $500.00. Number One Son was admitted so we needed some supplies from home, namely a change of clothes for me and a Nintendo DS for him. Daddy-o had four kiddos to put to bed so I did a quick inventory of my support network. One sister just left for overseas; other sister, SIL, and mother enjoying time at our cottage. Have I mentioned that our family cottage has no electricity or cell phone reception? No fancy city-folk cottaging for us. While we enjoy the peace and screen-free lifestyle, it does not come without some inconvenience especially at times like this. I phoned my 92-year-old Grandma who is a bit past running errands for me, but it was good to hear the voice of someone on my team. She readily provided moral support but also dashed any hope of being able to turn to my “Plan B” team of supporters. The Williamson family (the cousins who keep getting married) were all up at their cottage enjoying the weekend. More evidence that weekends are not the time to have a sick child. Needless to say, a nice taxi cab driver arrived at the emergency room with our supplies!

Why does saying something out loud turn into a mama’s nightmare? We’ve all experienced it – as soon as you start telling people your baby is sleeping through the night, it’s back to three hourly feeds. You mention to the daycare worker that your two-year-old is fully toilet trained and suddenly you’re back to several accidents a day. Even whispering “I have not had a cold yet this season” is enough to warrant immediate intake of Vitamin C and Cold FX.

So, the lesson is clear. Don’t say anything out loud since it makes bad things happen to good mamas. Pass the wood, I’m gonna start knocking.

Mama Medicine

At Mabels we have a couple of safety products that make a lot of sense. Our “Allergy Alerts” and “My 411 Wristbands” are a great way to notify folks that your kid has a medical condition or allergy. Clearly it brings piece of mind to mamas whose kids are going off into the world of people who just don’t get how severe an allergy can be.
I think that a severe food allergy would pretty much make me psycho. Strangely, I’m quite laissez-faire when it comes to other ailments. This is particularly obvious when I’m deciding whether something warrants medical attention. Clearly, I can’t run to the Doc for every runny nose or rash or I’d be doing nothing else. Fortunately I have a friend who has a TV medical degree – she has been a committed viewer of everything from St. Elsewhere to ER, and now Greys and House. As such, she’s well qualified to field my first call and when she does not feel confident in her diagnosis, happily refers me on to a professional.

My TV Doctor friend must be doing a good job. A couple of years ago I was called by one of those professionals to bring a kiddo in for a check up. Turns out, the Doc had not met that kid, even though she had been on the books for three years. Because I don’t immunize my kids, we seem to miss out on the early wellness check-ups so I generally have no clue about their growth rates or weights. While there is one kiddo who has an allergy to penicillin, I couldn’t tell you for certain which one without checking my medical files. Oh, and there was that time my son walked around on a broken foot for three weeks……ah well, as my MIL would say, ya can’t wrap them in cotton wool!

Some recent medical happenings with daddy-o got me thinking that maybe he’s inappropriately applying this laissez-faire attitude to himself in all situations. Most recently, several Specialist appointments and a couple of biopsies later, he was going in for some results. I left him with strict instructions to phone me at the office to immediately report on the findings.

No phone call came and when I finally got a hold of him, the phone conversation went like this:

Me: “So what did the doc say about such and such…..pause……oh, you didn’t ask that?”
Repeat that about five or six times. For every question, no answer.

I hung up in frustration and one of the Mabel mamas in the office shared some advice. First up, it’s nothing short of foolish to let a daddy-o go to a specialist appointment alone. She relayed that with her husband’s fair Irish skin, he has an appointment every year for an inspection of his ever-changing, growing, shrinking, appearing, disappearing moles and freckles. If she can’t go to the appointment, she pulls out a pen and circles every mole she wants the Doc to look at with the simple instruction “tell the Doc to look for the ink!”

Perhaps a new market for the “My 411 wristbands”: the beloved daddy-o. A wristband could be applied before every appointment with the instruction: “when appointment is finished call this number to field questions and give results”.

Smells Like a Double Standard

I am now on day seven of the twenty days that daddy-o and the two big kids are in far off lands visiting my in-laws.

Over the last week I have repeatedly heard “how are you enjoying the break?” and “does it feel like a holiday?” Truth is, it kind of does. I have four fewer sporting events to get to each week, less bickering to mediate and the laundry demands are quite sensible. However, I still have three kids at home who are aged one, three and five. It can hardly be considered a ‘break’ or holiday destination of any kind….not much sitting on the beach or cocktail hour happening around here.

Now, we all get that motherhood is a thankless job and all that, but I’ve come to realize that a strange transformation happens when daddy-o takes over some of the parenting and family duties that mama usually handles. Instantly that parenting role is worthy of praise and suddenly folks start offering up a bit of support to the primary caregiver.

Whenever I am away on business, the troops rally around daddy-o. Children get invited for sleep-overs and play-dates, and dinner invitations come pouring in. I can guarantee that if roles were reversed and it was daddy-o home with three small children for 20 days, it would end with a ticker-tape parade through the centre of town in his honour. I would have people swarming me telling me how “lucky” I am that he is such a good father.

What do I get for my 20 days with three small children? I’m not really sure but it would be great if those troops arrived sometime soon.

A similar example is observed every August at the Mabel office. There is one Mabel mama who usually ends up putting in 16 hours days for several consecutive weeks. Her husband is a teacher so manages all things kid and household during that hectic summer season. We always marvel at the outrageous number of comments floating around about how amazing he is. I’m quite sure by the end of this summer he will be inducted into some fatherhood hall of fame. But why is he a Saint for doing for a few weeks what countless women do ALL the time?

So the double standard is clear:
- Daddy-o does the job and he gets assistance and accolades
- Mama does the job and no one really cares or notices

Whatever the reasons and answers, all I can say is that it’s a darn good thing we’re not in the business of being mamas for the glory. I’d guess it’s the great pay, hours, holidays and benefit packages that attract most of us to it.

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