Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hat Head

I dropped the kids off this morning at school. As I was rounding the corner for the carpool lane, my cell phone rang.

"Hello?" I managed to squeak out. My voice has been gone for about four days, a fact which has been a dream of hubby's come true.

"Wow! It doesn't even sound like you!" my friend responded.

"Yeah, I know," I relented. I'm quite tired of having to "scream" to be heard, or flap around like a chicken, making wild hand motions to try to be understood. (Sometimes I think my kids just pretend not to know what I'm saying- but that's a whole nother story.)

"So, you aren't going to work?" she asked.


"I saw you with your baseball hat on and I figured you weren't going in."

Ah, the baseball cap: the international sign of mothers everywhere stating: I'm going to be as unproductive as possible today OR I have so much "dirty" stuff to do today, it wasn't worth fixing my hair. In my case, it was indeed the prior.

I laughed. "Guilty as charged. I'm waiting for my antibiotics to kick in."

"Oh," she replied. "I'm just taking the day off. I'm calling in for a 'mental health' day. I have my baseball cap on, too."

Mental Health Day: the day in which a mother says to herself and the world: I have done everything for everybody but me for such a long time, I don't remember the last time I ate a meal at the table and not in the car, I can't imagine reading more than two words in a book without falling asleep in bed and, I am unable to complete sentences without hissing, "Are you listening to me???" Today I am not "mommy," I am not "work force extraordinaire," I am simply "me." And me, myself and I are taking the day OFF!

Mommies only get about two "Mental Health Days" every four years or so. But when we get them, all mommies everywhere know that this is sacred, scant time, and should not be disturbed. So, I wished my friend a good day and then headed over to get more drugs.

The pharmacist greeted me with, "Nice hat."

"Thanks," I rasped. "Got anything to bring my voice back?"

"Didn't you start some antibiotics?"

"Yes, but I need something that will get me back to normal quick. I've got too much to do," I whined.

"I'm not a doctor, but my guess is, you need sleep and lots of fluids."

"Yes," I conceded, "the doctor did mention that."

"Maybe some hot tea?" the pharmacist suggested.

"Okay," I said as I wandered hazily over to the tea aisle.

My bff turned the corner and bounded over to me like Tigger.

"Hi!" she gushed. "One of the Christmas presents I'm looking for is on sale today, so I came to get it."

"Christmas?" I was confused.

"Duh. It's like just over a month away."

If I had felt better, I would have panicked. But seeing my state of exhaustion with a baseball cap, bff merely gave me the pity look.

"Why are you out?" she demanded.

"Drugs," I replied.

"Did you get some yet?"

"Yesterday. I came back for more. They said I just needed to go to bed."

"Then go!" she said, shooing me down the aisle. "I'll help you panic about Christmas when you feel better."

I smiled. What a great friend!

"Oh, and you'd better not be wearing that baseball cap the next time I see you," she called after me.

I turned around and stuck my tongue out at her.

"How do you know I'm not just being lazy today?" I asked.

"Because you have no voice and you're coughing like you're about to have one of your lungs land right here in the cereal aisle."

"Fine," I frumped and turned back to leave again.

"I'll call you" she sang out.

I went to the front and purchased the milk and bread my kids needed, while the cashier eyed my hat.

"Taking the day off?" she smiled.

"Yes. Sort of. I'm out sick," I croaked.

"Wow. You sound awful," she said, looking genuinely concerned.

"Yeah, I'm getting that a lot today," I replied. "Hope you have a good day."

"You, too. Feel better."


As I turned to go I noticed other mothers coming in to do some shopping after having dropped off their little ones, too. Some were headed to work, wearing work attire, pantyhose, heels and lipstick. Some were doing their "mom" thing, wearing jeans or some comfortable pants, a somewhat casual shirt and a pony tail and lip gloss.

Only one other mom had on a baseball cap. She looked like she felt awful, too. I overheard her on her cell phone, "...No, I'm not doing that today. I'll have to do it Thursday..."

She glanced up and our eyes locked for just a moment.

The mutual feeling of empathy was exchanged. Then I headed out the door and she continued to go in and begin her shopping.

When I got home, the baseball cap went on the table so that it could be collected quickly if the doorbell rang or I needed to take the dog outside. I'll probably put it back on when it's time to get the kids to disguise the wild hair I have going on without the hat.

But it's nice to know, no matter where we are in life, what social class we are in, or in what region of the country we live, mothers everywhere have ques to let each other know our status. And the baseball hat is possibly one of the most recognizable of all.

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