Thanks to MOMSense, a former publication of MOPS for giving me the chance to tell this story—one of my first published articles— back in 2011. 

I have been known to do underwear checks at breakfast.  I always thought that adding undies was a pretty standard part of one’s morning routine, but my children seem to find the extra padding under their jeans an unnecessary nuisance.  They don’t like the hassle.  The absence doesn’t bother them.  They think they can do without.

But oh no, they can not do without. Why? Because they have a mother.

“Let’s see your wears!” I would say, as I walked behind my little trio, all suspended on barstools and hovering over cereal bowls.  They’d groan and giggle, but inevitably there would be one who was unable to produce that tiny patch of material evidence, proving that the unders were in place.

“Up stairs!’  I’d say, pointing like a drill sergeant.  “Unders are not optional.”

Somewhere along the way, I must have become less resolute about my morning checks.  Perhaps my little stewards had inflated my confidence with their faithfulness. Or maybe our other checkpoints, like teeth, hair, and homework, had diverted my attention.  Whatever the cause, I fell behind on checking, and so what happened in the doctor’s office should not have surprised me.  But it did.

Child A was the one scheduled for a checkup. Child B was there simply because I had no where else for him to be. He wasn’t happy about attending, but I told him, “We all have to make sacrifices for each other.”  I was oblivious to the ominous nature of my words.

When the nurse ushered us into the tiny room, she told me, “Have Child A get undressed and hop up on the table.  He can leave his underwear on.”  By the alarmed look on Child A’s face, I could tell that there would be no underwear to leave on.

After the door closed behind the nurse, I asked incredulously, “You forgot your unders?”.  He bobbed his head in tiny jerks then stared up at me, frozen in solemn horror.

I weighed the options. I could let the natural consequences play out, and ensure that there would never again be any padding missing at breakfast. But then I pictured Child A as an old man, wagging his finger at me and saying, “It’s your fault that I’ve never kept a job or been able to commit.  You’re the one who made me sit on that table without my undies!” If I suggested such a travesty, his screams would surely hail the entire nursing staff. This possibility tipped the scales toward plan B, which involved Child B.

“Do you have undies on?” I asked.

He did, and proudly pulled back his tee shirt to disclose a tiny pinch of racecar material. “Quick!” I said. “Take them off and give them to your brother!  Hurry, before the doctor comes in!”

Child B, plagued with a case of giggles, quickly did what I asked and got redressed, minus the underwear, which he handed off to Child A.  I don’t think that receiving his brother’s kidney  could’ve produced more gratitude in Child A’s eyes.

With more speed than a fireman, Child A pulled on the racecar undies, and skidded into place on the table, just as the doctor turned the doorknob.

We made it! I looked over at Child A with a knowing grin, and it was then that I noticed that the newly obtained pair of underwear (obviously the wrong size)  was on backward.

Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever have everything in place. Most likely not. But when we pull together, pool our resources, and spot each other in tight places, we’re far better off than we’d ever be on our own.

Why? Because we’re a family.

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