Every Saturday Once a week in 2013 I’ll be sharing a post for the Mom Before Mom project. The goal is to tell the stories of life before motherhood, the stories which root the woman in every mother. So much of memory keeping is focused on capturing our children’s experience but what of our own? Who will capture the mother’s journey as a woman? Who will honor our journey if we don’t honor it first? Every week I’ll be answering a question, journaling my life stories. Read along or write along with the wonderful bloggers linking up every week.
Prompt #8: Who took care of you when you were sick? How did you spend sick days? From soup to ointments to old wives tales, how did your family teach you to heal?
I didn’t get sick very often as a kid. I attribute it to two things. First, every morning my parents made me take vitamin C and cod liver oil pills. Every day I was expected to take them without question. When I wanted to understand why it was necessary to take something that made my burps taste like fish, I usually got one of two answers – because they’re good for you or because we said so. I wanted to not take them so badly but by nature I’m a people please-er so down the hatch they went. The other thing that kept me healthy most of the time is my parents ability to will away any sickness from getting near me. I’m not sure if this last bit is true or not but if you know my abuelo, then you know the man can move mountains just by thinking about it. So go with it.
For a healthy kid, though, I took lots of medicine. When I was really little, any cough or sneeze and my mother would rush off to fetch the children’s Tylenol tablets. She’d dissolve the dosage in a spoon with water. I liked the chalky sweet flavor and was a little heartbroken to outgrow the children’s Tylenol. As I got older, my mother fancied herself some kind of pharmacist. She always had the pharmacist give her an extract refill and our medicine cabinet was always full, particularly of the bright pink antibiotic. Cough, sneeze, fever, chills, over exhaustion, stomach bug, any ailment in my parent’s house could always be cured with something out of a medicine bottle.
On the rare occasion I did find myself under the weather and home from school, you’d find me in front of the television sprawled out on the couch. I was a glutton for daytime television.
The only ritual I hold dear is a prayer my mom would whisper over me at night. She’d come in if I wasn’t having an easy time sleeping, a fever usually, and she’d recite the prayer in a whisper and do the sign of the cross over me several times. I loved it. Her hushed voice, the grandeur of the sign of the cross, the darkness, not really knowing what she was saying. It seemed mystical and magical. I have a copy of the poem tucked into our medicine cabinet for when my girls get sick.
That’s as romantic as my sick days get. My parents were all about take your medicine, quit your belly aching and get better. Tough love was their prescription to kick a cold to the curb. None of my wishy washy Whole Foods medicine cabinet healing crap-o-la. Either way, we alive and healthy so there’s something behind each of our kinds of wacky medicine.
Next week’s prompt: 3/9 Did you have a favorite pet? A crazy one? What were their names? Tell us a story about your animal companions or lack their of.