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“Get the cold compress!”

And other things my mother taught me

When I was about thirteen or so my best friend and I were babysitting my little sister when she came screaming into the living room with a staple stuck straight into the top of her tiny pointer finger. There wasn’t any blood, but just to be safe my friend instructed her to get off the carpet. And because I wasn’t sure how many arteries run through the pad of a six-year-old’s pointer finger, I decided to call the nearest reinforcements—my grandparents about a mile down the road.
When they arrived my grandpa went straight to work assessing the situation and my grandma did what she always does in stressful situations–she put a cool washcloth on my little sister’s head.
I’m not certain now, but it seems she might have brought it with her prepped and ready from home, and knowing gramma, she probably had one on her own head on the way over.
As it turned out grampa just leaned in calmly and quickly (and smartly without warning) pulled that staple from my sister’s little digit and just like that the whole thing was over, panicked tears and all.

Over Easter that same little sister spent the night at my house with her nine-month-old daughter. Just as everyone was heading to bed for the night her baby started to cry a cry that turned into an inconsolable episode. I went in the room to try to help, knowing mom to mom how excruciating these moments can be. And when all of our other remedies failed to soothe her, I remembered my grandma and her cool compress and headed for the linen closet.

Turns out the wet cloth probably calmed our nerves more than it calmed the baby, and now that I think of it, that was probably my gramma’s intentions anyway. But in the end it was my idea to turn on cartoons to distract her and snap her out of it that actually worked, and of course that would be the type of mommy remedy I would pass along to my little sister.

Recently I read somewhere that parenthood doesn’t come with an instruction book, it comes with a mother. And that got me thinking of all of the ways moms lean on our moms or the women closest to us in our lives to get through the days with children.

And it doesn’t stop after babyhood, but continues through from potty training tips to teenage daughters bringing home scary looking boyfriends.
Just now I got a text from my little sister wondering if she should bring her daughter to the walk-in clinic for her cough, running the idea by me I’m sure to help reassure herself that she’s not over or under reacting.

And I’m sorta thinking that before she makes the call to the doctor, she’ll call our mom. Because that’s what you do when you have a good one. You call her. And if you don’t have one, you find one in the women you respect and who love you unconditionally. It might be an aunt or a gramma, a sister or a friend who will always answer the phone to hear questions from “Is this one pink line or two to “What works best for teething pain?” to “What do you do when you try to discipline her and she laughs and runs away?”

Ok, that last one might be unique to me, but seriously mom, what do I do?

I think this one is beyond a cold compress.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there, by birth or by love. This issue is dedicated to you, to us, and all the work, worry and worth-it moments that come with this gig we call motherhood.

Written by Jessie Veeder


Jessie is a singer/songwriter/writer and statewide columnist living on her family’s ranch near Watford City with her husband and daughter. She blogs at . Reach her at (


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