Home Call

This following article is a guest post from a friend, doctor and mom, Emily Tarvin.

photo credit: Emily Tarvin

photo credit: Emily Tarvin

The first page comes as I turn onto my street. I pull over a block from my house, so my kids don’t see my car. It’s the nurse calling to tell me that my patient’s daughter has now arrived. Would I like to talk to her? I glance at the clock. My family will be sitting down to dinner. I left when they were still at the breakfast table. Of course, I say.

We talk for a few minutes. She’s terribly nice, and our conversation is so important to her father. I start the car again and park near home. Two small faces watch from behind the glass as I climb the steps. Their joyous, demanding voices greet me as I open the door: “Mama! Mama!” They tackle me with frantic hugs. Their hands shove books and drawings and boo-boos in my face.

My husband is just putting dinner on the table. We sit down to eat, and I set my pager nearby. As we pass the bread, I try to glean tidbits of information about my children’s day. What did Alice eat for lunch? Which friends did Jackson play with at recess?

After dinner, they plead to have Pez for dessert. The task of loading their Pez dispensers distracts them while I call back pages. I start the bath. We pretend they are having swimming lessons: my daughter blows bubbles, while my son perfects his back float. They argue over towels and who should read their bedtime stories.

We put the kids to bed. As I wash the dishes and make lunches, I answer pages. I order Tylenol, a heating pad, a urinalysis. Typical evening requests. The nurses pass the phone around, trying to cover all the bases for the night. Things settle down. I’m ready for bed.

I turn out the light, and my pager beeps again. The nurse sounds concerned. I give an order and ask her to call me back with an update. I fall asleep. An hour later, the pager wakes me again. The same nurse, now clearly worried. She’s new, somewhat inexperienced. Still, my own level of concern rises. With a few phone calls, I transfer the 16-year-old patient to the emergency room. I think of his parents, scrambling to find their shoes in the middle of the night. I wonder if I am overreacting.

Taking home call leaves me feeling unsettled. I learn only bits and pieces about the patients, yet I try to make safe, reasonable decisions. Is a night with no calls a “good” night? Maybe not. I rely on the nurses’ judgment. Not so different from leaving my daughter with the nanny, or the vast unknown of my son’s kindergarten days.

Doctor, mother. The work is the same in so many ways. Piecing together clues, studying vital signs, striving for homeostasis. Sometimes hands-on, sometimes from a distance.

As I answer pages, the rest of my family sleeps. I say a prayer of thanks that we are all under the same roof tonight. Eventually, my pager is quiet. Nothing terrible happens.

Morning comes.

emilytarvinEmily Tarvin is a hospitalist. She lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and two children. She is thankful that she only takes call about twice a month.

The Mother of All Meltdowns is One (and $0.99 today)! #MOAM

The Mother of All Meltdowns is turning 1

It seems like just yesterday I was telling you about my very first book, The Mother of All MeltdownsAlong with 29 other amazing writers and moms, I shared my worst moment as a mother. The one where I cried, yelled and swore at my kids after a daycare pickup gone wrong.

Yeah. That one. I try not to think about it too much. (And, who am I kidding, I’ve had a few meltdowns since the book came out.)

Moms are human, though we’re often expected to be superhuman. We do our best. At the end of the day if our kids are happy, somewhat well-adjusted and know they are loved, we’ve done our job.

The most important thing to remember as a mother is you are not alone. We all have our crazy meltdown stories, whether we admit it or not.


A lot has happened in a year. My kids are both in school, so they are no longer in daycare. Heck, I don’t even have the same name.

Reflecting back on my experience with this book, I think what I’ve most enjoyed about being involved with it is the community that it has created. We, as contributors, became great friends and supporters of each other in parenting, blogging and life.

Those that read our stories – whether they laughed, cried or cringed – could relate deeply with at least one of our tales. Hearing people tell me their own crazy daycare / meltdown stories erased any anxiety over sharing my bad mothering moment.

It’s the book that reveals the reality of mothering, the less than angelic side. If you haven’t read it already (what????), you can download it today (October 20) for just $0.99. Get it for all the mothers in your life. I promise she will relate. It’s the perfect gift for expecting moms. It may also serve as birth control for those women without children. (I’ve also been told that men enjoy it as well!)

I leave you with an author’s Q & A I did last November with Stephanie over at the When Crazy Meets Exhaustion blog.

Do you have a good meltdown story?

Bathroom Humor

When Biz and I realized we would have some rare alone time together while his brother attended a birthday celebration this weekend, he suggested we go to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. He didn’t have to twist my arm for that trip since we have a membership, and the fall flowers are gorgeous.

It’s one of our favorite places to visit and, really, how could you not want to go out and show off a fall outfit like this?


How Maine kids dress in the chilly fall weather.

We went straight for the children’s garden so Biz could throw some lobster traps into the water and walk across the rope bridge on the tree house. We then walked to the various bodies of water in the sprawling gardens to search for frogs. We found many, many frogs.

When it was time to leave, I took Biz into the ladies’ room with me because he’s 5, and I’m just not comfortable leaving him out in a lobby alone just yet. No one was in the bathroom when we first walked in, but three women came in soon after us. The following is what happened during this innocent trip to the women’s restroom.

Biz (busting through each bathroom stall, loudly): Where are the stand up toilets, Mom?!

Me (thankful no one was actually in the stalls at that time): There aren’t any urinals in the ladies’ room, Honey.

Biz (utterly disappointed and attempting to choose a toilet to use): FINE.

Me (waiting patiently until his chooses a stall, as there are now other women in the ladies’s room): I’m 2 stalls down from you, if you need me.

*A few minutes pass and I’m now washing my hands at the sink. I hear the sound of clanking metal behind me.*

Biz: Mommy, do you have change?

Me (turning my head to see that he’s now at the tampon dispenser): No, I don’t have change. Definitely don’t have change.

Biz: Please, Mommy? Are you sure? I want a prize.

Me: I don’t have any change, and those aren’t prizes.

Biz: Yes they are. You put the change here and turn it….What are they then?

Woman in the bathroom (turning the corner to see Biz and laughing): Yeah, Mom. What are those?

Me (attempting to answer with a straight face): It’s not a prize machine, Biz. Those are for ladies.

Biz (still messing with the coin dispenser): Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? What’s in this thing?

Me: Things that ladies use and boys do not.

At this point, three women are practically in tears laughing, and Biz continues to ask why he can’t have what’s in the dispenser. I lure him over to the sink to wash his hands. He tells me that he doesn’t need to because he never took his gloves off.

Next time, I’m just going to hold it.

p.s. If you like stories like this, you’ll love The Mother of All Meltdowns

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