Archive for Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lucky mom gets a lot of family support

May 13, 2007


Erin Fagan, 4, left, and Max, 2, are the children of Susie and Mark Fagan, of Lawrence. The Fagans benefit from a lot of family support with two sets of grandparents in town.

Erin Fagan, 4, left, and Max, 2, are the children of Susie and Mark Fagan, of Lawrence. The Fagans benefit from a lot of family support with two sets of grandparents in town.

'Mother load'

In the coming weeks, the Journal-World will launch a new blog aimed especially at mothers juggling family and career. Journal-World copy editor Susie Fagan will be the primary blogger, with regular contributions from arts editor Mindie Paget. Have any ideas for topics you'd like to see addressed in "Mother Load"? Contact us at or

The moment my feet hit the floor, I knew I was in trouble. Waves of nausea swept over me, along with a cold sweat.

That clogged ear from the night before had ruptured, and I felt like I'd been hit by a life-size Thomas the Tank Engine.

It was a Friday morning in March, my husband was 1,800 or so miles away and I could hear our two kids chatting in Max's bedroom down the hall.

The room seemed to spin, and I thought: What am I going to do?

As I collapsed back into bed, instinct kicked in. I reached for the phone and called a number I've known since, well, I was about my daughter's age.

My dad answered. I relayed my SOS, and he said he'd be over as soon as possible.

Soon daughter Erin popped in. Her eyes widened when she saw me, and grew even bigger as I spoke in a tone she'd never heard: "Mommy's not feeling so well. Grandpa Dick will be here soon."

And he was. My mom arrived soon after that, and then my in-laws came to take the kids away.

The next 48 hours were a blur: headache, nausea, doctor's office (my mom had to drive me), headache, nausea, sleep, glances at NCAA basketball games, headache, sleep, finally able to eat some crackers, sleep, still a headache.

Throughout it all, I didn't have to worry about the kids, just myself. What a relief, and what a luxury.

I'm lucky enough to have an intimate support network here in town: my parents and in-laws, with a strong supporting cast of friends and co-workers.

When my husband and I married, we consciously decided to make our home here in Lawrence, where my parents and his parents live. Sure, we were motivated by the future possibility of free "baby-sitting," but we also knew how important it was to be surrounded by friends and family.

Now that I'm a mom, I realize even more how vital that support network is. It's more than just help when you want it - it's help when you really need it, too.

This extends beyond our social network, to those who help us in ways we sometimes don't realize. From the necessary, like doctors and teachers, to the extracurricular, like dance instructors and soccer coaches, our children get guidance from many people who are different than me.

And for that I'm grateful.

It's great to see Erin and Max with their grandparents. They stay with them four afternoons a week while we're at work, so it's part of their routine.

They know that when we hit Bob Billings Parkway at Monterey Way, a right turn means we're going to GiGi and Pat's and a left turn means we're headed to HaHa and Dick's.

Thanks to their grandparents, Erin has learned how to whistle (really well, I might add), and Max has figured out how to charm his way into a large collection of toy trains.

Other people can give them knowledge, skills and experiences that I and their dad can't. While some of that may differ from what we believe or what we would do, that's a good thing.

Because while we can share our ideas and opinions with our children, ultimately they make up their own minds and choose their own paths.

As parents we obviously have the primary responsibility for raising our kids, but I'm thankful I don't have to go it alone.

It's times like that day in March that make me realize how much help I need, and how happy I am to have it.

- Susie Fagan has a daughter, Erin, who will be 5 on Monday, and a son, Max, who'll be 3 in June.


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