Brigit threw up at Trader Joe's yesterday. Ok, to be accurate, first she coughed the evil 5-week lingering cough (am horrible mother), then she choked on phlegm (which subsequently shot onto me), and then she threw up at Trader Joe's. By the bananas. You know, in front of everyone. And I was paralyzed. Because she's at that stage where I no longer need to carry a diaper bag complete with wipes, change of clothes, and empty plastic bag (and I'm totally kidding, because I never carried that - wipes and one diaper crammed into my purse, if I'm lucky). I had two stuffed animals, a box of granola, and a bunch of bananas. I was 50 feet from the cooking kiosk, where there might be napkins, and 200 feet from the bathroom.
And I was catching vomit in my hand.
A friend of mine recently said, "you know you're a mother when you reach out to catch throw up."
Yesterday, I was surrounded by mothers. Within minutes, one mother was handing me paper towels and reaching out her own hand to catch vomit, another brought me wipes and helped me towel Brigit down in between retching spasms. Others helped me to the bathroom.
There is something about the sight of a sick child and a mother in distress that brings out the best of the mother in us. I did not know these women, might not have been friends with them had we known each other, but they were were there, they did not hesitate.
I have been part of the community of mothers for more than 6 years now. There are days when my mothering instinct is overruled by my snark (I may have maybe called a number of mothers in Ror's new class "Alpha moms" this morning), but at the heart of it, we are all mothers, ass-high in the alligators of vomit together. Whether we are calling one of our number a bully or calling another disgusting because she dares post pictures of her real home, uncleaned, we are all mothers. And I hope we would all be there, our hand outstretched, if one of own needs it.