By Carolyn Edgar
My Valentine's Day started off with a bang. Or, more specifically a ring. No, not the ring of the alarm clock – although that is literally how I got started this morning. I am referring to the ring of my cell phone, an unexpected call from my secretary as I was about to walk into my doctor's office (the doctor's office is a story for another time).
“The school nurse from your son's school called and said it's urgent that you call her back,” my secretary told me.
Turns out my son was having an asthma attack just as I was about to go into a much-anticipated doctor's appointment. He hadn't had an asthma attack in almost two years. We just returned from Johannesburg last week, where he petted lion cubs and fed a giraffe without incident, but the sudden change in temperature seems to have triggered a rare attack. The school nurse gave me an ultimatum: either bring his medicine in the next 20 minutes, or she would have to send him to the nearest ER for treatment.
As a single mother, this is exactly the situation I dread. The kids' father, my ex-husband, generally is unavailable for these types of emergency or crisis situations because of his work schedule. And obviously, I can't clone myself. Even if I cancelled my doctor's appointment, it would have taken me over an hour to go home, get my son's asthma medicine, and take it to his school – by which time the school nurse would have already called 911.
And until very recently, I didn't have friends I could ask for help.
That's really not true. I have friends I could ask. I just always refuse to ask them. They have their own families, their own crises to deal with, I reasoned. I can't expect them to put their lives on hold when something unexpected arises in my life.
My friends would say I'm silly. They'd say I should ask. They understand the challenges I face as a single mom in situations like this. But I hate asking for help. I prefer to figure out a way to get it done on my own.
Today was different.
Today, without thinking twice, I called a friend – a friend who had spent the morning giving me reassurances about my own health; a friend who understood the importance of my own doctor's appointment. I asked my friend to take my son's medicine to his school.
And he did. Not only that, he stayed with my son in the nurse's office while she administered the medicine, listened to his lungs, and determined he was okay to return to class. All of which allowed me to keep my doctor's appointment and look after my own health.
I've never been a big fan of Valentine's Day. I don't like flowers, I don't need chocolate, and I have plenty of jewelry I don't wear.
Yet a simple act of kindness – a simple gesture of friendship – made for one of the most memorable, and meaningful, Valentine's Day gifts I've received in quite a long time.
Carolyn Edgar is a lawyer, writer and divorced single mother of two who lives in New York City. She writes about raising two children alone (sometimes with the help of her ex), marriage, divorce, dating, relationships and life in general at http://carolynedgar.wordpress.com. Carolyn has been a regular contributor to theFreshXpress , Cocoa Mamas and NYC Moms Blog