Keeping an adequately stocked first aid kit and medicine cabinet is the least I can do as a mother. With one kid, Jude, who has fallen so much that he has scarred knees and two loose front teeth, keeping band-aids, antiseptics, antibiotics, and painkillers on hand is crucial. He insists on having band-aids even when his tumbles don't draw blood. Sometimes, for fun, he and Darla also use the bandaids as stickers.
I have periods, as a mother, where I have felt in complete control of the medicine cabinet. I knew how much was left in every Tylenol and Ibuprofen bottle, whether the thermometer was charged correctly, and if I had enough bandages to deal with a life-altering wound. These were the moments when I felt like the best mother. I knew I was ready for any and every disaster that didn't involve emotional meltdowns.
Other times, my medicine cabinet feels a bit out of control, and it's almost like a metaphor for my esteem as a mom. This is where I'm currently at. Recently, after my daughter complained of a headache, I realized that every analgesic, homeopathic or otherwise, was well beyond its expiration date. I tore through the cabinet and couldn't find anything to help me, so I gave her some water and left it at that.
A few days later, Jude had one of his traditional accidents on his scooter. Medical attention was immediately required for the tiny cut that couldn't even be seen after the blood was wiped away. As he hyperventilated his way through the trauma, he hiccupped out, "can I have the bubbly stuff for my cut." He wanted hydrogen peroxide.
"Sure," I said as I dug through the medicine cabinet. I then remembered I'd used the last of it a few weeks earlier. As I looked at Jude's tear-streaked cheeks, I braced myself for the emotional wreck he'd become once I broke the news to him. "Actually, I don't think we have any. I'll make sure it's clean though."
He didn't throw a tantrum. His shoulders slumped as if he were resigned to a life overwhelmed by disappointment in an inadequate mother. As I watched my son accept his fate, I couldn't help but wonder: "does my empty medicine cabinet foretell a life of maternal failings?"