This weekend I was reminded of the immutable truth of parenting that it is impossible to call Poison Control and still feel like a good mother by the time you get off the phone.
Hubs and I were moving some furniture upstairs while two-year-old Corrie watched The Little Mermaid with Joseph. Clearly, the melodic siren song of Ariel wasn’t enough to keep our daughter entranced. We came downstairs to find her sitting in front of the TV with an open bottle of Tums, both fists and both cheeks FULL of the chalky tablets.
While Hubs fished the stuff out of her mouth, I ran to the phone to call Poison Control, all while trying frantically to remember who could have possibly left a full bottle of Tums within the reach of a toddler (the answer? Me.)
Poison Control: This is Poison Control, may I help you?
Me: [My voice shaking.] My two-year-old daughter just ate a lot of Tums. [In the background, Hubs is barking at the kids to turn off the TV, while loudly trying to round up Joseph, who had witnessed the event in question. Truly, we were the picture of parental control.]
Poison Control: How many is "a lot"?
Me: Um…I’m not sure. A LOT-lot. [I’m so eloquent in an emergency]. Maybe a couple of handfuls. Ten, maybe? Even more? Hang on… [to Joseph now] …Sweetie, how many Tums did your sister eat?
Joseph: I think it was 16.
Me: 16? If you were able to count that accurately, why didn’t you STOP HER?
Joseph: [Blank five-year-old stare].
Me: [To Poison Control] My son said she ate 16, but he’s only five and not very strong in counting yet…
Poison Control: How long did the two year old have access to the medicine?
[Insert sound of screeching record here. Ah yes, the million-dollar question, which might as well have been, "How long were you ignoring your child?"]
Me: Um, five minutes, maybe? I don’t know how she got the medicine, really….
There were a few more questions about Corrie’s weight, and the very kind Poison Control man assured me that, in fact, as a one-time occurrence, an overdose of Tums is not harmful. Not to Corrie, anyway–but my confidence and peace of mind took a sound beating.
I laughed nervously at our sloppy drama and, in the dark part of my mind, tiptoed around that frightening, never-too-distant truth of motherhood that life is more fragile than I give it credit for. And I hugged my girl, because really, what else was there to do (besides put away the Tums)? It was just another reminder to me of how carefully God holds my children’s future, even when I’m not looking.