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Mommies Should Get Hazard Pay

Maddie’s got a responsibility chart
that she fills in at the end of the day: for everything she
accomplishes she gets to put a magnet in the space. Her
responsibilities include a few concrete things like clearing the
table, but are mostly intangibles like no hitting, no whining,
being obedient, and no teasing. Most days she loses one or two
magnets, but a few days out of the week she’ll have a perfect

Saturday was one such day, and she came running into Cora’s
room where I was reading to Cora for bedtime. “Mommy!”
she shrieked, coming to the chair, “I had a perfect

“That’s fantastic!” I cried, “Give me a big
hug!” And I leaned down to hug Maddie.

Right as Maddie jumped up to hug me, thereby driving her skull into
my nose.

Her head hit my nose with one of those
sickening crunches that make you wince and avert your gaze in the
movies. I leapt out of the chair, throwing Cora at Brian, holding
my nose and trying very hard not to cuss. Instead, I just screamed,
“Ow, ow, ow, Mommy’s ok, Mommy’s just going to
the bathroom! Ow!”

As the blood ran down the back of my throat and my curious
four-year-old tried to sneak into the bathroom to catch a peak, I
reflected on all the ways I’ve been injured in the line of
duty over the past four years. There are the typical injuries-
hemorrhoids, a bitten boob while nursing, carpal tunnel syndrome
from holding the baby’s head while nursing. Then there are
the random injuries every mom sustains as well: the thrashing foot
to the boob as you’re trying to diaper up a squirmy toddler,
the flailing fists from a full-on tantrum, the smack to the stomach
that takes the wind out of your sails as your child leaps onto your
lap and digs that knee in just right.

And now I get to add a nearly-broken nose.

Forty-eight hours later, the thing still hurts. My two front teeth
even ache still, and I’ve been icing it off and on and taking
Motrin ever since Saturday. I know it’s not broken –
it’s not that sensitive to the touch. But there’s the
soft-tissue pain and slight swelling that just intensifies when I
lie down and try to go to sleep.

And here’s the worst part about a Mommy injury – your
kid both cares too much, and doesn’t care at all. When you
first get injured you have to muster all your resources to not
scream and jump around, because your toddler’s staring at
you, wide-eyed and terrified. You see the guilt and the fear, and
you use up some much-needed energy trying to calm your kid when all
you want to do is walk in the other room and sob because when they
dropped that truck on your toe it REALLY HURT! So even when
you’re the injured party, you have to put someone else first.

But then time passes – maybe four or five minutes – and
Mommy’s injury is old news. You’ve done such a good job
reassuring them that they’ve crossed that worry off in their
mind and it ceases to exist. So an hour later, when they want to
stand on your feet and dance, they get crabby because Mommy says
her toe hurts, so please don’t pick off the bandage! And you
stare at the cause of your pain and think, Hey, kid, a LITTLE
remorse wouldn’t be out of line here.

I’m sure my nose will feel better soon, and unfortunately for
me there’s no bruising or need for band-aid, so no visible
reminder exists of the accident. Which is why, I’m sure,
Maddie came up to me Sunday night and said (I’m not kidding),
“Mommy, can I lick your nose really hard?”

I stared at her. “Um, no, hon. Setting aside the right and
wrong of that for a moment, Mommy’s nose still hurts from you
bonking me last night.”

Maddie looked at me, bewildered. “I never bonked you!”

Which shows me that I’ve done my job. Too well.


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