Why I deserve coal in my stocking this Mother's Day

May 07, 2011|By Laura Vozzella

This Mother's Day, I'd like to reflect on one of my most spectacular maternal flops, executed just last weekend, on the occasion of my 8-year-old daughter's near-First Communion.

Anna woke up and told me her throat was sore. That's just pollen, I assured her.

Later, she said she felt like she was going to throw up. Nerves, I said. She was scheduled to do a reading at the service.

I got her into the lovely white eyelet dress and veil my mom had sewn and sent her downstairs, where oohing and aahing from an aunt and two sets of grandparents seemed to cure all that ailed her.

At the church, she filed in just fine with all the other children. She did her reading, the Prayer of the Faithful, even pulling off the optional raised arm to signal the congregation to respond, "Lord hear our prayer." (With her arm stiffly in the air, the look was less Eva Peron than court witness taking the stand but still.) She did a great job.

Ten minutes later, she was throwing up all over the dress and the church floor.

Turns out Anna wasn't suffering from seasonal allergies or stage fright. It was strep throat, as we later learned at a walk-in clinic.

Upset about getting sick in front of her classmates and missing First Communion, Anna didn't want to go to the clinic. Back at home, as I tried to comfort her and convince her to go, I stroked her brown hair and saw something even more shocking than vomit in church: A blob the size and color of a kalamata olive was attached to her scalp.

Brain tumor. I was sure of it.

I slipped out of the room and fetched my parents. My dad looked stricken. My mom dropped to her knees and made the sign of the cross. Had it been in my power to medevac her to Ben Carson's doorstep, we would have been on our way.

Luckily, we didn't need the pediatric neurosurgeon's services. We needed my husband, who was just downstairs and knows an engorged dog tick when he sees one.

The bloated, wriggling critter came right off with a tweezers at the clinic.

The whole goofy day seemed to showcase my failings as a mother, my ability to overlook a real illness and imagine one that wasn't there. But oddly enough, it didn't feel like a disaster. There was something truly moving about being terrified that something was terribly wrong with my little girl, having my mother pray and learning moments later that she had nothing a Hartz 2 in 1 Collar couldn't cure.

Anna makes her second attempt at First Communion this Mother's Day, at a regular Mass but in the white eyelet dress, which washed out nicely. Unless she's feeling sick. Then we're staying home.

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