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Locomotive Appreciation Day

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Little Red Caboose

Photo credit: Stephen Mimms, Fotoblur

I’m just starting to emerge from the haze of a triple whammy: strep throat, sinusitis and an infection in both ears. Let me tell you: there’s nothing like a few days in bed to make a gal feel needed. With me down for the count and my husband working long hours at his commission-only job, our house looked like an episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive.” Throughout the week I spent flat on my back, I lost track of the number of times my husband came to my bedside and said, “Wow. You really are the locomotive of this household!”

As sexy and glamorous as that metaphor is, there are many days I want a break from shoveling coal. But, as I’ve mentioned before, the job is relentless.

Over the past six months, I’ve thought many times about how much I admire moms who work outside the home. I remember one day, shortly after having made the decision to stay home with my son, when I watched a woman lugging an umbrella stroller off a city bus with a young child in her arms and rain pouring from the sky.

I think of that woman often. Nearly every time I feel like I’m not cut out for the job of stay-at-home mom, I remember the stolid look on her face. I picture her pulling herself out of bed in the darkness of the yet-unbroken day, yawning as she pulls clothes onto her little one. Walking to the bus stop to board the first of several buses she’d ride that day. Going from home to daycare to work and back to daycare before finally arriving home, exhausted and soaking wet.

Every time I see her in my mind, I think to myself how I could not do what she does.

But being sick for a few days gave me a new and unexpected perspective on my job as a stay-at-home mom. Is it possible I’m tougher than I thought I was?

Every morning during the time when I was sick, my husband would bring my son to me in bed and I’d think to myself, I want so badly to call in sick today. But each day, I still had to do my job. Granted, I didn’t do it well during this time, keeping my son in bed with me most of the day. But I found the strength to smile for him, tickle his chubby belly and nurse him frequently to keep him well. And, amazingly, it worked. My son came through unscathed, suffering no more than a stuffy nose.

This job, which I’m so lucky to have right now, is — frankly — really, really hard. It’s mentally exhausting and emotionally challenging. But I’m starting to realize that there may be some people out there who feel they couldn’t do what I do every day — even if I’m not pushing a stroller through the rain.

While I was sick, each time my husband referenced a train to compliment me, I’d respond, “But I just want to be the caboose!” Alas, we ladies rarely get to be that cute little red caboose. Whether we’re pulling along our friends in times of crisis, or our parents, significant others or pets, we seem destined to be caretakers. We put our own needs last and respond to the call of those we love.

Call me a feminist if you like (I was, after all, voted “Most Chauvinistic” in high school), but in addition to Mother’s Day, I think there should be a Women’s Day. Although, that term sounds a little matronly. Ladies’ Day? A bit menstrual. Gals’ Day? Too “Mad Men.” Vagina Day? That one has potential, but may return some undesired results when entered into a search engine.

I guess that leaves only one thing … Happy Locomotive Day, ladies!

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