Sudden Emergency // My mother-in-law had been watching my toddler all morning. How could he have gotten so sick?

As told to Sarah Massry

y heart sank when I looked at my phone. Six missed calls from my mother-in-law. Something was very wrong.

The night before, the two of us had been chatting on the phone. I’d called her up to find out how my father-in-law was recuperating after his hip-replacement surgery. I’d also mentioned that my son Shimmy’s babysitter had canceled on me and that I was scrambling to make alternative plans.

My mother-in-law jumped at the opportunity. “I’ll watch him tomorrow!” she insisted. “I can’t leave Dad alone, so I’m home all day anyway. Dad’s not in the best of moods, so it’s pretty dreary around here. The days are long and boring. A cute little baby is just what we need to brighten things up!”

I was reluctant. “Thanks, Mom, but I don’t think you know what you’re getting into. Shimmy is quite a handful. Turn your back on him for a second and he’ll be emptying out your cabinets and making himself a cup of coffee.”

She laughed. “Don’t worry. I raised nine children. I’ve done this before.”

I bit my lip. True, she had raised nine children, but she had been a lot younger back then and wasn’t taking care of someone recovering from a serious operation. But I had a tight deadline at work and hadn’t been able to find another babysitter on short notice, so I took her up on her offer.

When I dropped Shimmy off at my in-laws’ house, Mom was waiting on the front porch. Shimmy smiled as he toddled over to greet her.

“We are so excited to have him here!” she said as she scooped him up. “We should really do this more often.”

I thanked her again and hurried off to my office. Later that morning, I checked in. Mom sounded exhausted. “I forgot what it’s like to run after a toddler! But everything is fine. I’m going to put him down for a nap soon. How long does he sleep again?”

“Shimmy never sleeps for more than an hour,” I told her. “He’ll wake up on his own, and then he’ll be ready for lunch.”

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