Motherhood is a job often under-appreciated.
I know many mothers out there agree.
There’s forcing the kids to get ready for school.
There’s making sure they eat properly.
There’s arguing about everything from clothes to toys to friends.
There’s cleaning up the messes from the time of birth all the way up to the day they finally pack up and move out.
Not a sick day is offered.
No “two-week vacations” get planned.
There aren’t even retirement benefits.
But many moms out there wouldn’t trade the work for anything.
I know my own wouldn’t, and as her first-born, I certainly offered the most challenges.
I never knew or understood how my mother managed herself through a crisis.
And I provided her with plenty of Crisis Management lessons.
I remember when I was in third grade, I got to wear a bald patch of hair to school for a few weeks.
I was an avid bike-rider, racking many, many miles on our little hollow road.
That road was pretty narrow for vehicles, and had a pair of blind corners on it.
One day I was riding with several of the neighborhood children, and we were racing down the road.
I’d say there were between six and eight other kids running around, and I think four of us decided to have the race.
The end of the hollow was a horse farm, and that was where the race began.
Several racers had BMX bikes, which were popular for racing at the time.
I had a refurbished bike from the 1950s, and loved everything about it, from the oversized handlebars to the banana seat.
And despite its looks, that bike was a racing contender.
That day, the four of us gathered at the end of the road, and began the race.
Eight little legs were pumping up and down, and since I was the tallest, I was quickly able to overtake the other three racers.
As I continued to gain ground, I took my hands off the handlebars, laced my fingers behind my head, and placed my feet on the handlebars.
I looked pretty cool — for about a minute.
I crossed the finish line just in time to see what I’d won.
A date with the front end of a neighbor’s Buick Riviera — the driver of said car was notorious for driving way too fast down our narrow little street.
The front tire made contact with her bumper, and I went skyward, over the hood of her car.
I have a distinct memory of riding along the roadway, upside-down, with nothing but my head pushing gravel.
And then I blacked out.
When I came to, a couple of the kids were talking to me, walking me home. Some of the other kids took off, including the son of the woman who hit me.
I can only imagine what my mother thought as I walked into the kitchen, blood pouring from my head, down my face, and splattering on my shirt.
But as she was used to dealing with my youthful, injurious antics, I can share an even more distinct memory of Mom.
I walked into the kitchen with the kids who brought me home. My mother thanked them, then sent them away.
She sat me at the kitchen table, and got an old towel from the bathroom to avoid blood dripping on the floor.
She then went to the rotary-dial phone, and called my dad at work.
She could have been calling to discuss the weather — she was that calm.
“I’m going to have to take Johnny to the emergency room,” she said matter-of-factly. “I’m not sure how long we’ll be over there.”
She spoke with him another few minutes, then called the hospital to let them know we were coming.
She told me to make sure not to wipe the blood away — she said years later she knew if I looked worse I’d get seen right away.
A big skull needle, a shave, a gravel removal session and a few stitches later, my mother was free to take me home.
As I said before, I’ve put my mother through the wringer when it comes to family crises.
When I was 11, on a Tuesday night at the beginning of my sixth-grade year, I was playing outside with my endless supply of Matchbox cars.
A neighbor girl who was a year or so older than I came outside. One comment led to another, and I started chasing her.
She ran toward the backyard, and hopped up on her parents’ back porch — and ducked into the garage.
I ran around that same corner and was greeted with a slamming door. I threw my hands up to stop, and the left one did.
The right arm, however, punched through the glass.
Panicked but seemingly unhurt, I jerked my arm back out the window — and made everything much, much, MUCH worse.
I looked down, and for a moment saw a flash of bone — and then the main wound began pouring.
I ran home, and was greeted by my father, who was preparing to holler for me to come in.
A Boy Scout, my father went into rescue mode, applying direct pressure and bellowing to my mother, “We have to go to the emergency room NOW.”
And so began the amateur rescue operation. My mother grabbed my younger sisters — one from the tub, the other from the crib — and aimed for the garage.
My dad waited on the front sidewalk, with my arm bleeding profusely.
Mom forced my sisters in the backseat, and bolted from the garage.
Dad and I squeezed into the front seat, and my mother went into demolition derby mode — without the crashes.
What I remember of the trip, we got to the hospital in record time, only running one stop sign (that I remember, mind you, I was in shock by this point), and running a neighbor off the road.
While I can only imagine how my mother felt wondering about the fate of her child, she certainly didn’t show it, nor did my father.
It was pretty impressive.
Especially when, years later, I was told of some of the things I said to my family during my delirium on that car ride.
Let me tell you, those things I said had to be tough to hear, especially when you’re trying to remain calm for the other children in the car.
So when you roll out of bed Sunday morning, take a moment or two to think about Mom. Call her. Recognize what she went through to get you where you are today.
And for those whose mothers have passed on, may you have the strength to endure.
Reporter John Ross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Motherhood is a job often under-appreciated.
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