A Mother’s Instinct

When my son was little he used to get the croup. I can remember the first time he had it. We had no idea what it was, we just knew that the sound coming from his little baby chest was unlike anything we’d ever heard. It’s funny though. After a couple of times dealing with the croup we became pros. From the instant we heard that seal bark coming from his crib we would spring into action without even thinking. Even if it meant being ripped from a dead sleep in the middle of the night, we knew exactly what to do.

The advice we had been given was not the classic “steamy bathroom” advice. Research had shown that cool air did a better job of breaking up a croupy cough. There were many nights I spent under the stars with Patrick swaddled in a blanket just pacing our small little yard. There was always something oddly satisfying about those moments though.

As any mom who had to deal with the croup knows, it’s not something you deal with once or twice but an ongoing issue that you face a number of times during the first few years of your child’s life. And most moms become pros. Most moms are able to spring into action, just as I mentioned above, and relieve the symptoms. We learn what works for our croupy baby and learn how to do it fast. When the croup comes on we’re ready and don’t even have to think about it.

As moms, we don’t always get a lot of those moments. The truth is that we get very few moments where we are 100% certain we are doing the exact right thing at the exact right time to accomplish the exact right outcome.

Truthfully, most of motherhood is spent hoping we’re making the right choices. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve stared at the thermometer that says 99 degrees. Do I keep him home? Do I send him to school? Is that cough breaking up or is it getting worse? Should we cancel the trip or go anyway? Should I bring him to emergency or wait until Monday? More medicine or let the bug work itself out?

I’ve probably had enough of these moments to last a lifetime. And my kids aren’t even tweens yet. I don’t even want to think of the mountain of uncertainty I face when my kids enter junior high.

It’s weird because I think about my grandma, heck even my mom, and I wonder were those previous generations as plagued with uncertainty as we are today? It doesn’t seem like it. I think one reason is because this generation of mothers is force-fed so much advice from TV shows, books, the internet, other moms and even strangers on the street that we’ve somehow lost the most important tool a mother has.


Many of us forget on a regular basis to simply listen to instinct. Not always, but a lot of the time I think we do forget.

And we have to remind ourselves that sometimes we have to just let go of everything that society says we should be doing go and just trust our inner voice and our very basic ability to do right by our child.