A story idea can hit me at any time or place. I could be playing with my 8-year-old daughter, Jessie, taking a shower, or even sitting in church. Of course, it wouldn’t be during the pastor’s sermon, as he is a gifted speaker. Not to mention, he reads my column. I began to formulate this column as I was hugging the toilet.
I propped my back against the bathroom wall during a break from regurgitating. My mom came to mind. No, I’m not saying that my mom makes me sick. I was wondering how many times Mom nursed me back to health. As I was on my knees, hunched over the porcelain bowl, I had two main thoughts. First, “It’s time to clean the toilet,” and second, “I want my mom!”
As I sat by the toilet wishing my mom was there to take care of me, I had time to reflect. I remembered the time Jessie crashed her bike and lost a baby tooth when her mouth hit the handlebar. The blood from her cut lip and missing tooth was easy to stop. Her tears were not. Jessie cried over and over, “I want my momma!” At the time, I wanted her momma, too. But even though I had the situation, along with Jessie’s tooth, calmly in hand, she insisted that she needed Momma. There is something about a mother’s love and comfort.
A bug bite at mom’s
When Jessie was about two-years-old, I took her for a week-long visit with my parents. Since there was not an extra bed at their house, I slept in a sleeping bag on the floor. Around 2am, I woke up and my lips felt numb. I got up and looked in the bathroom mirror and discovered that my lips were swollen to twice their normal size. I looked like a clown! A spider or some kind of bug must have bitten me. What should I do?
I started to have an anxiety attack. Is this how I was going to go out — allergic reaction, breathing stops — all from a bug bite? My dad used to volunteer on the ambulance crew at the local volunteer fire company. I thought about waking him up, but decided to call Mom instead. She didn’t wake up until the fourth or fifth loud whisper of “Mom!” but she groggily stepped out of bed, like she must have done hundreds of times with her four kids. I told her that I got bit by something and showed her my clown lips. My daughter was afraid of clowns at the time and I joked with Mom that, “Jessie will be scared to look at her father.”
Mom sat up with me for an hour. We laughed until we both had tears in our eyes. More importantly, my mom comforted me and was there for me yet again. She didn’t care what time of day or night, how old I was, or that I even looked like a clown.
Mom’s apple sauce
A few hours after my toilet bowl fling, my stomach began to settle. I asked my wife what she thought would be good to eat and, hopefully, keep down. She suggested my mother’s homemade applesauce. My mom makes the best applesauce, peeling apples and cooking them with sugar, then pureeing them in the blender. Every batch is a lot of work, yet she sends me home with a cooler full of it each time I make the 700-mile trip to visit. As I was eating her applesauce, I realized how lucky I am that my mom is still taking care of me.
Since I’ve been “Mr. Mom” for eight years now, I have a better understanding of how hard parents work for their children. I also realize that my job as a dad will never end, because children never outgrow needing their parents.
Mom, thank you for all you did, and continue to do, for me. My normal-sized lips have formed a smile many times in my life because of you, especially when I eat your applesauce. I wish moms, and all who provide love and comfort, a happy Mother’s Day. Until next month, remember to cherish the moments.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in
banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44.
He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and writer.
Follow Patrick at facebook.com/patricklhempfing and on Twitter @PatrickHempfing.