Take a number


Eli and MomI have spent most of the last 32 years standing in line. As I see it, it’s a mother’s job.

It starts pretty early. There you are in line at the public health department checking your son’s immunization card to make sure he has all the required shots dpts, measles, mumps, rubella, etc. etc. What is rubella anyway? All you know is it’s  your job to make sure he makes it through and if everyone else is getting these shots for their babies, you baby deserves no less. You stand in line. And you don’t sigh, too much.

You spend a lot of time in line at the local swimming pool because your son must learn to swim or he will drown. You DO read all of those stories in the newspaper and choke back tears for the other unlucky parents. Because you don’t know what age is right, your son starts swimming lessons too early. In fact, so early, he has a bathroom accident in the city pool causing them to close for 24 hours. The lesson.  Never give swimming lessons to a child still in diapers. Why didn’t other mothers standing in line tell you?

Somehow standing in line gets easier. It becomes routine. On a freezing February evening, you crowd into a small Lysol-smelling. elementary school cafeteria and stand in line to sign up for Little League. In line, you assure your son he WILL get on a good team (although you have no idea who is on any team) and WILL get a coach who knows enough about the game to let every kid have a chance to hit the ball. Your son gets only one run in 36 games and assures you being with the team (it is NOT the best team) is worth it.

At the Department of Motor Vehicles, all the mothers take a number. They don’t mind waiting. Another ten years would be o.k. You can pick them out without trying. They paste patience on their faces to hide the panic. They slowly walk their children up to the counter and it’s all they can do not to grab their sons or daughters hands to hold them back. Secretly they want to jump across the counter, grab the gray-haired, pudgy, government worker by his K-mart tie and yell, “Whose ideas was it to let them drive? Where will they go? They’re not ready!”

You hold your tongue, sure your son will not pass the final test on his first try. Surprise! You were wrong. Although he leaves the car keys at the counter after getting his license and you both smile at the confusion when they are finally found, there is a sour feeling in your stomach. This time the line you stood in did not really give you what you wanted more time together with your oldest child.

While standing in line for prescriptions, groceries, school supplies and the latest Madden football computer game, the years rush by. Suddenly you are at a local university, standing in line, paying for several young men to play in the college honor band. Of course, your son, who is one of the percussion players, is off to the side, hanging out, being cool. he doesn’t see the realization when it hits you like a thunderbolt. As a mom, your job was to stand in line. Judging by the line you are standing in, you did o.k.



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