Mollie is on sabbatical for the rest of the week – she and Dr. John had such an awful day yesterday that they’re running away together.
Dr. John (we call him “Doctor” at our house because there is more than one John, and, well, because he IS a doctor) and his trip to the emergency room got me thinking about how important it is for parents to have contingency plans. You may (what the heck, if you’re reading this, you ARE) be the best, most thoughtful, completely engaged, completely-organized parent on the planet – but when (not if) an emergency appears, you are gonna need backup.
Someone will need to be taken to the ER (and who wants to drag extra kids along?). Someone will get sick or hurt at school and you’ll be out of reach (or your cell phone will accidentally be turned off). You’ll have to work late when your spouse is away on a business trip. One kid will need a few days in the hospital and the rest of the kids can’t go. You’ll go into labor in the middle of the night.
The one constant in the parenting gig is that it's unpredictable.
That’s why you need someone – or several someones – who can bail you out at times like this. Whether it’s a family member, a neighbor, a good friend or a babysitter who will drop everything and come running when you call, we all need them. It’s not enough to have an “alternate phone number” to list on the school records; you need to have a few people whom you know and trust well enough to ask, “It’s an emergency – can you watch the kids??” even while you’re dropping off the kids and the motor's running.
You also need to be backup for them. They won’t ask at a convenient time – that’s kind of the nature of emergencies – but there’s some comfort in knowing that they’re there for you, too.
Unless you’re very, very lucky.