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The week after Thanksgiving, a mom drove my car home for me.

Not my mom. Another mom who had never met me or my family. That didn’t matter though. When the call came in, she answered it and she helped me fix a $20 mistake that could have cost me everything.

Because that’s what moms do. Moms fix things.

The chain of events started July 4th. My husband and I were spending the day at the lake in town soaking up the sun, the sand, and the littleness of our 3-year-old and 2-year-old. But when it was time to go, the car would not. We had a dead battery along with the midday sun and two little kids who could both use some lunch and a nap. Luckily, a neighbor was there that day and after I chased her down through the parking lot, she corralled her family into their car in order to come to our rescue. Without batting an eye, she and her husband graciously searched for jumper cables before instead driving us home.

Moms fix things.

Fast forward to a rainy night in November. Picking my son and daughter up from day care, there was another mom waiting in the lobby, her kids just a couple of years older than mine. She and I were equally hungry for dinner, and equally anxious for sweatpants, after long days at work. The problem was as ready as her family was to go, again, the car would not.

It was my turn to don the rescue cape, fish out jumper cables from the trunk, remind my kids that patience is a virtue, and help get another mom back into a working minivan and on her way home. I stood out in the cold rain with her and we figured it out.

Moms fix things.

The dead car battery in the parking lot was just one of the things on my list that week that needed to get fixed. It was one of those things that I wanted to fix. There were issues in the offices to lead my team through, dinners that needed to be cooked, and some rough drafts of articles that needed a polish. There was a lot going on in my life, and things needed to get done. So I found that my pesky lingering cough was one of those things I didn’t have time to fix.

Then came the $20 mistake. The tipping point.

While the responsible part of my brain told my coughing body to go to bed, the $20 coupon to the online photo gift shop with a midnight expiration date told me I should stay up. So to save $20, I plugged away at a photo calendar knowing that if I could just check this one thing off my list, I could get a little more sleep tomorrow. And maybe bump the thermostat up a notch guilt-free with my coupon savings.

Turns out I could have used that sleep more than the $20, because the pesky cough turned into a peskier virus that took hold quickly and fiercely. On my way into the office the next day, chills started, and they didn’t stop. By 9 a.m. I had to lay my head down twice in order to keep the room from spinning. It was time to go home, but I didn’t quite know how.

Stubbornly I walked to my car and on the way got a phone call from my vacationing boss. It was a fortunate phone call that stopped me from putting a key in the ignition of some heavy machinery I had no business operating. My disoriented and slightly panicked voice caused my boss to pull her boss into the mix, who quickly found me in my car, huddled in a winter coat with what was apparently non-waterproof mascara streaking down my face. I shudder to think about what might have happened had I started driving. It should come as no surprise that both of the woman who put the brakes on my attempt at self-sabotage that day are moms.

Moms fix things.

Finally surrendering to others with calmer and less fevered heads than my own, I accepted that I had worked myself into a dangerous state and in a matter of minutes I was going to be in an ambulance traveling a few miles down the road to the local hospital. Riding in the front seat of that ambulance, my boss’s boss was tracking down my husband at work, adeptly locating all of my necessary identification, and not for a moment considering leaving me until my husband was there. I should have been mortified that I looked like death warmed over, and that my work superior was tucking me into heated blankets on a gurney, but I wasn’t. I needed a mom. Any mom.

Moms fix things.

Something I hadn’t for a moment considered during all of this was my little green Corolla that I had left in favor of more medically equipped transportation. What was to become of my valiant steed considering I lived 40 miles from the office? Turns out I didn’t need to worry my dehydrated head about this problem, because that same mom who was riding ambulance shot-gun was on it. She enlisted another mom, a woman I had never met, to drive my car home since we lived one town over from each other. Within a few hours, this mom settled into my begging-to-be-cleaned Corolla and was on the highway headed west. She later told me that it had been no trouble at all, and in fact a “fun change” to drive through the rush hour traffic instead of taking the train.

Moms fix things.

None of this comes as a surprise. I’ve known for a long time that my own mom could fix things. She has fixed hems, breakfasts, sinks, and broken hearts expertly for 33 years. Even that day as I lay in the hospital, my mom had left her own work to drive an hour to pick up my kids from day care. Since becoming a mom myself, I know that to my kids, I am their fixer. What I lack in sewing skills, I make up for with warm hugs, glasses of water, and Band-Aids. Motherhood has also allowed me to be immersed into the sisterhood of moms and I’m coming to learn that moms don’t just fix things for their kids—moms are fixers by nature. It becomes a part of how we interact with the world. And the world is better for it.

To the mom who brought me home in a pink swaddle blanket; to the mom who brought my car home 33 years later; and to all the moms I’ve been blessed to know in between: thank you for being my fixers.

I like to consider myself a strong, independent woman, but even strong, independent women sometimes need someone else to pick up the pieces. And even if I’m a mom who sometimes forgets to fix herself, I’m going to be there for you, too. I promise to answer the mom Bat signal, and keep paying the mom power forward. Because the only way this fixer business works is if we do it together. Collectively we lift each other up, and collectively, moms fix things.

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Becca Carnahan

Becca Carnahan is career coach, author, and mom from Massachusetts. Her writing combines funny and relatable parenting stories with career advice to make the whole process of finding or creating a career you love a lot more fun. Sign up for her weekly working mom newsletter at withlovebecca.com.

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