Even though I sometimes tease my husband about preferring life at the firehouse (all guys, big shiny red truck, fresh-cooked meals, no wives or kids), I understand that it is a tough job. I certainly would not be willing to run into a burning building no matter how much you paid me. My husband's brother still isn't recovered from a nasty fall off a roof over a year ago fighting a fire. It got me thinking about the book To Sleep with Angels. It's the true story of a 1958 elementary school fire in Chicago.
I remember the story was terribly sad, but the only detail I can recall is the young boy who had been dragged out by his belt and dropped from the second floor as a fireman desperately tried to save as many lives as possible. The boy, disheveled and bruised, walked home. His mother saw him and quickly began scolding him for getting into a fight and forgetting his coat. He sat there at the kitchen table, dazed and bleeding, as his mother read him the riot act, refusing to believe his story until she saw the black soot under his nose.
When I read the book, I remember thinking what a horrible mother she was to not appreciate the gravity of the situation and instead go right into "Mom the Admonisher" mode. Now that I have 3 sons of my own, I see only myself in that mom. I imagine what it would have been like for us aboard the Titanic:
Son: "Mom - wake up! The boat is sinking!"
Me: "Knock it off, I'm sleeping."
Son: "Really, Mom! We've got to go above deck!"
Me: "Get out of here NOW."
Me: "If I have to wake up your father to yell at you, you're going to be sorry."
We'd all invariably perish.
When I first read To Sleep with Angels, my sympathy was with the poor boy whose mother didn't believe him. If I were to read it again tomorrow, my sympathy would be with the overwrought mother who made an honest mistake and probably had it thrown in her face for the rest of her life. I think I'm going to pour a cocktail tonight and toast that mother. Probably doing laundry, probably tired, probably worried about the world.
I hope that young boy has forgiven his mother. I hope that mother has forgiven herself. And somewhere, over the years of guilt, perhaps she can hear one giant pomegranate martini raised in her honor. The second martini will be poured in an effort to forget the laundry that calls my name. Here's to Everymom.