Like when it snows. Say what you will, but that man could shovel like a motherfucker. He’d be outside for hours, first clearing the driveway and front walk as the snow was falling and then again later, after the storm had passed. He’d clear a path in the back for the dog to get to a spot to do his business and when he ran out of stuff to shovel here, he’d start in at the neighbors’ next door. He never asked for help and we all stayed warm and cozy inside while he labored in the snow.
He had moved out in December and that winter, the kids and I had to muddle through a few snowfalls, arguing over who would shovel how much for how long and alternating between the one decent and one terrible shovel sitting in the garage.
So the following winter, I decided to give each child his or her own snow shovel for Christmas. The kids came downstairs Christmas morning that year and found a shiny new shovel with a big red bow taped to its handle next to their pile of gifts.
“Mom, that’s so stupid,” they told me, as if I had give them toilet brushes or a bottle of Clorox. They knocked those new shovels aside and moved onto their XBox games and Juicy sweatsuits.
Who then was the genius when the next day a blizzard dumped a good two feet of snow on the Northeast? Ladies and gentlemen, that would be me. Removing all that snow was no longer just a problem for management. The workers had to get involved.
But I also really missed having the kids’ dad around last week when our youngest was hit really hard by the flu. Like, pick a symptom and he had it.
It made me wish I had a better relationship with the man with whom I share four children. I miss telling him what they said or did while he was at work and not having to labor over what makes the story funny or poignant or maddening. He would get it. There is only one other person in this world who loves my children the way I do. Only one other person who marvels at, boasts of and worries about these four people other than me. And I miss being able to share that with him.
So after about five days of battling various symptoms, like vomiting, high fever and croup, the kid looked like shit. Seriously, pale-faced and glassy-eyed. I wished I had someone to talk about it with, other than a doctor. I didn’t want to alarm my teenaged daughter and the patient certainly didn’t want to hear my concerns. I wanted someone to ask, “What do you think?” or “What should we do?”
But we don’t have the kind of relationship right now where I could just pick up the phone and talk.
So, I called my mom who, having raised eight children of her own, has seen her fair share of medical drama. She asked the right questions and gave sound advice and I hung up feeling better about what to do next.
And it got me thinking: if my ex-husband was still around, would the feedback have been as equally satisfying? Or would we just have disagreed about the treatment and prognosis as we did about so many other things?
I stand by the shoveling, though. Man, he could clear a path.