The Mom Squad and Community Connection

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Last week killed me. I woke up in the early hours, like 3 a.m. early, to a baby struggling with her breath.

En route to the ER, I felt my eyes fill with tears. I was tired, scared, and acutely aware that this situation most likely meant missing my upcoming flight to Colorado, which was where my family was gathering to celebrate my brother's wedding. I felt immediate loneliness and nervousness all at once, which made me crave a hug from my mom more than ever. As we checked in with the standard proof of id and insurance card routine, I tried to distract myself by snuggling my little lady. Her wheeze and general malaise quickly reminded me that most of my emotional unwinding had begun because of her labored breath, which brought the tears back beyond my control.

As I felt the tears stream down my face I heard a sweet voice say, "Oh, you live in Madison. We're neighbors. I'm on Greenwood."  A woman from behind the desk greeted me with a smile. Her presence was palpable. We shared a quick line or two about how much we loved living in Madison and she sent me off to the next desk near the pediatric side of the ER. Our exchange was brief but acted as a divine intervention of sorts. I refocused through a mindful Madison moment.

It's been a little over six months since we arrived in Madison. After a house hunt worthy of an HGTV show, we landed ourselves a lovely house in the town I had passionately pursued from afar. I had come to respect Madison because of the town's community engagement, cultural affairs, and a general sense of spirit. I loved Madison because of the polite, kind, and warm citizens that made it feel especially rare.

Dear neighbor on Greenwood, you saved me from a complete meltdown.

A few hours into my ER stint I was pacing. Breathing treatments weren't working. The baby hadn't eaten in hours. I felt the tears start to reemerge. Cell phone service was spotty, which meant my better half was unable to talk some sense into me. A doctor appeared and ordered a chest x-ray. Another doctor appeared and explained it was pneumonia. Before I could ask any questions I was informed we were headed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. I could feel those darn tears making their way to my cheeks yet again.

I looked up in an attempt to delay the impending sobfest and caught sight of a familiar face. One of my older daughter's classmates was sitting on a bed across the hall. Her mother sat beside her. I shouted her name, running to the door, pulling oxygen lines out of sorts. It felt so good to see another Madison mom. We shouted out things to one another since we couldn't leave our tiny patients, and then I channeled some sarcasm as they rolled us out of the ER and up to the PICU.

Dear fellow member of the preschool mom squad, your smile kept me sane.

We had a four-day three-night stay in the hospital. It was long, tedious, and a lot of other things I can barely remember. I missed my brother's wedding and our families, who were out of state, felt out of the country because of the entire ordeal. But I walked out of there knowing my kid's stint was nothing compared to others. And while the gratitude grew, I felt something else emerge as well.

While in the hospital, I got all sorts of texts, emails, and calls from local residents. Offers of help, warm wishes for recovery, and general check-ins flooded my phone. I came home to meals. The mailman noted my little one wasn't at the door and inquired after her. People popped over to see if I needed groceries.

Cue another mindful Madison moment.

This is Madison. It's a place that comforts, connects, and takes care of its fellow residents. From little stuff to big stuff, there's a sense of pride and purpose here. I cried when we got discharged. But don't worry, I had happy tears. It felt so good to be headed home. And I wasn't just missing my house, I was craving my town.