81: The Best of Intentions

81: The Best of Intentions

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

The Best of Intentions

Everything has positive and negative consequences.

~Farrah Fawcett

I wore many hats as the mother of four young children. At times I was the nutritionist making sure the kids ate a balanced diet, or the fashion expert as they wore color-coordinated, ironed outfits, or the mental health expert helping them have happy and fulfilling lives, or a dance partner for the Mickey Mouse song. But of these, my most prized job was that of an educator. I read to the children daily, took them to the library, and instilled a love of books. I wanted to encourage them to become familiar with words, so I printed “Toys” on a piece of tag board and taped it to the toy box. I followed with other concepts such as “Door,” “Wall,” “Bed,” and “Window.” I beamed when my preschool children recognized these words while I read a story or when they pointed out words on signs and billboards.

After the kids became proficient with numerous nouns, I tried other words. A sign with “Up” and an arrow pointing in that direction went near the ceiling, “Down” and its arrow was placed near the floor, “Push” went on one side of the door, and “Pull” decorated the other side. “Around” with a circular arrow went on a toy top. My chest puffed with pride as my children’s reading vocabularies grew.

One day they all came down with fevers, coughs, and stuffy noses. I should have had a sign on my forehead that said “Exhausted.” Miraculously, all four fell asleep at the same time, so I joined them. I woke from my deep slumber when a little finger poked my arm and my toddler announced, “That’s yummy.” My eyes flew open, and I stared at the orange stain around his mouth.

I rushed into the kitchen. Just as I feared, the orange-flavored children’s aspirin bottle lay on the counter — empty. I dialed the Poison Control Center and gave thanks I’d posted their number by the phone — even though I thought I’d never need it due to my extreme vigilance.

“Yes,” I answered when asked if I had syrup of ipecac. “Of course,” I replied when queried if I had placed the aspirin bottle out of the reach of children. “Certainly,” I said when asked if the bottle had a childproof cap. But even with all the correct answers, I felt like I should pin an “A” for Awful Mother on my clothing.

After the dose of ipecac caused my three-year-old to “fro-up,” the waiting voice on the phone asked to speak to the culprit. I eavesdropped on the conversation.

“How did you get the orange pills?”

“I climbed up.”

“Did you open the bottle?”

“Yes. It was hard.”

“How did you do it?”

“I read the directions.”

“Well, Super Mom,” I whispered, “looks like your great idea doubled back and kicked you.” I gave a sigh of relief that my little son was okay, then readjusted my Mom Hat and trudged on.

~Sharon Landeen

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