I was writing about the importance of routine, and how you can spring-clean your routine, for MomResource.ca when one of those moments happened.

You know the ones… where time folds into itself, where everything that seemed important becomes irrelevant, where all you care about is that your kid is OK.

We’ve all been there – a fever, a broken limb out of nowhere, a flu that comes into your house uninvited and then sits in everyone’s lap. For me, it started with the four a.m. hair-splitting shriek from my son’s bedroom.

“MY NECK,” five-year old Teague screamed. “MUMMY!!!!! IT HURTS! IT’S SPREADING!”


The moment every parent dreads; the moment every single parent dreads more, because you are on your own and you have no idea what to do.

I realized I had to wake up my eight-year old, telling her not to panic, to get dressed quickly because we had to go to the hospital. Of course she started crying. Screaming in one room, crying in another. I had forgotten how to swallow because I suddenly realized the lump of tears I was holding back was making it hard to breathe.

As I went to wrap up my sweet boy and hustle him to the car to get to the ER as fast as possible, his screams intensified. “DON’T MOVE ME.” Right. 9-1-1. I called my mother next – thank God she lives five minutes away – all the while trying to soothe my son while taking his temperature, and keeping his sister calm. His wails subsided; but his neck was jarred to one side, like his left ear was yearning to connect with the shoulder.

My mother arrived and whisked my daughter into my bed to read Anne of Green Gables. Mere hours before, we had been engrossed in tales from the Cuthbert farm; my son’s Captain Underpants book lay beside him. I looked at them and wondered to myself, “Is this the last bit of normal we would have?”.

By the time the paramedics arrived, my son’s symptoms had abated: no fever, no vomiting and he was able to tilt his head forward – therefore, no outward signs of meningitis. We took the trip to Sick Kids Hospital, where the doctors checked him over and sent him home, advising me to come back if any other symptoms presented. I made my son toast, put on Treehouse Channel and watched him nap. And I thanked God.

Less than 24 hours later, we were back at Sick Kids. My son had vomited and nearly passed out. My mother was on the phone with 9-1-1, so I could tend to my son and make sure he didn’t lose consciousness. I was counting each of his breaths, while rocking him and talking to him, asking him if he wanted his iPod Touch so he could play Super Mario in the ambulance. That perked him up.

By the time the paramedic arrived, he was once again OK – no fever, and the vomiting had wiped him out, but I wasn’t taking any chances. During the second trip in the ambulance, all I could think was: my son has to have a spinal tap; please God, if this is meningitis, heal him.

Whether you go to church, believe in “something” or are an atheist, there is one great equalizer – when your kid is sick, you pray. The doctor at Sick Kids informed us that it was likely Teague had pulled his neck muscles the day before or had a virus that went into his neck; he then was hit with a tummy bug on top of it all.

It wasn’t meningitis.

Those are the moments… the ones where you realize all that matters is that your kid is OK. For many parents – the ones who were upstairs at Sick Kids as I was getting my news, the ones meeting with oncologists and heart specialists and hoping that a bone marrow match will be found in time – all they want is a healthy kid.

These people should be our heroes. They are the mothers being revered in the latest Sick Kids advertisement. They are the parents who are holding the line, when they can barely hold it together.

In less than two days, my whole world turned upside down; three days later, it was right side up again.

Only I was a little different. We were a little different.

As we go through life – parents trying to grow up ourselves, wondering who left us in charge of the kids – we get stronger during moments of adversity. And our kids get stronger for it, too.

What matters most? The answer is always right in front of us.

erin-phelan-headshotErin Phelan is a health and fitness professional, personal trainer and writer. Find her at www.80-percent.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.