I find it fascinating that my husband can sink into bed each evening and fall asleep between the words 'good' and 'night.'

How I wish it were that easy for me. Every night, it's the same routine: I struggle to get comfortable, shift positions and continually fluff my pillow so much that I'm surprised it doesn't beg for mercy. While I toss and turn thinking about what I did that day, what I need to do tomorrow and if there is a clean towel in the bathroom for my morning shower, I marvel that my spouse has safely entered REM.

Last night was another typical evening for me and explains why the bags under my eyes are a lovely shade of coal black. After tossing and turning and double checking the alarm clock, I finally drifted to a state of semi-consciousness, or what I refer to as my happy place, when right on cue it was all interrupted. I heard a cough coming from my son's room. I immediately raised one eyelid. In typical motherhood fashion my mind took off. A recap if you like:

'That doesn't sound like an ordinary cough. In fact, it sounds a bit of raspy. Could it be croup? Is a cold coming on? He did say his throat was sore, but that was before he gobbled a bag of Doritos and tossed it down with a huge glass of chocolate milk. Oh wait. There goes another cough. That was definitely a croup-like cough. Should I get up and check on him? Should I go downstairs and grab some Nyquil? Maybe a dose for him and I'll toss one back myself? I wonder if he will be able to go to school tomorrow? Oh please! Not a sick day! OK, let me think. Will I be able to get into the doctor's office tomorrow? What if I need to fill a prescription? Maybe I can fit it between my early morning dentist appointment and the cable guy who promised to be here anywhere from 9 to 5 within the next four days? That doesn't leave much time for the grocery store. Speaking of grocery store, I never did make that list. What do I need? I must remember shampoo because I've whacked the bottom of the one in the shower now until my palm is black and blue. We've done the pasta, tacos, pizza, chicken and cereal night this week, so I should probably cook something healthy, as we must be low on some type of vitamin. But when will I cook? Tomorrow is the parent/teacher conference and then soccer practice. Maybe a crock pot meal. But where is my crock-pot? I remember moving it to make room for the Panini maker. Oh yes! It's in the downstairs closet next to the Halloween decorations. What's that noise coming from downstairs? That doesn't sound normal. It sounds like water gushing. I'll wait for another minute. Oh yes, the dishwasher is on the timer. Crap. I forgot to put the clothes in the dryer. I'll get up 15 minutes early and toss the uniform jersey in then. Do I need to reset my alarm? No. I'll get up in time. Now what was I thinking about? Oh yes. I need to put money in my daughter's checking account. I wonder if she was able to get her paper done? Which reminds me, I need to make a dentist appointment for her. Speaking of dentist, what did I need to do tomorrow with a doctor? Oh yes. That's right. My son has a cough. Hmmm. I'm not hearing anything since his second cough. I wonder if he's breathing? You know what? I'm too tired to check.'

So that's what it was. My son had a simple cough. Nothing more. In the meantime, my husband was on his third dream.

Julie McGuire is a busy Lake Oswego mother of three children, a freelance writer and a monthly columnist for the Lake Oswego Review. When she's not playing chauffeur she writes a blog, 'From the Mudroom,' at

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