A mother needs to be the world’s best coach all the time. We’ve had a month here that required heavy coaching. Overlaid on the frenzy of the holidays were several “challenges” that we just had to deal with as a family.

My youngest son, Matt, was suffering from Lyme disease and had to be put on intravenous treatment because it had progressed too far for the oral antibiotic to be effective. The day we got that news was a definite coaching opportunity. Matt, who had been a brick through MRIs and CAT scans, absolutely balked at the notion of an IV line in his arm for a month. He’s a teen-ager and he couldn’t stand how that would look.

He argued half an afternoon away, refusing to have the treatment, which needed to begin that day. I talked, I listened, I cajoled, I threatened. Finally, I asked, “What would it take for you to do this?”

“A check for $10,000,” he said.

“Ridiculous,” I said. But two hours later, when he still wouldn’t budge, I said, “All right, you can have the check.”

“I want a letter faxed from Dad OK’ing this,” my son, the would-be lawyer, said.

I didn’t bat an eye. “Fine, no problem.” I called my husband and said don’t ask questions, just do this. Now.

He did.

My son was incredulous. “You’d really do this?” he asked.

“Of course,” I said. “Your life is worth far more to us than any amount of money, and this treatment will save the quality of your life.”

Ten minutes later, Matt walked into my room and crumpled his father’s letter into a ball. “I’ll do the IV. You don?t have to pay me. Did you really think I would take your money?”

I smiled at the most generous of my sons, and shook my head. I never even mentioned that I would not really have given him the money. But I’d known all along it wasn’t about any amount of money, it was about his anger and frustration at this one more indignity he had to go through. He wanted somebody to pay, even if only symbolically.

He went on to do his own IV flawlessly and mostly without complaint.

My oldest son, Justin, had been having academic problems in high school, but hadn?t wanted to face them until he failed a number of courses during the first marking period this year. Then, with a dignity and courage I didn?t expect, he came to us and to the school and said he needed a more structured and disciplined environment in order to do his work. He was even willing to go back to being a second semester junior to do it. We would have to find the “right” school for him, one with structure that would take his attention deficit problems into account but would not be a “therapeutic” school.

For six weeks, I made all the phone calls and enlisted the high school’s help with IQ tests and evaluations, as well as recommendations. I lived with dead ends and disappointments. I had to counter Justin’s list of demands for the perfect school with the hard reality of his grade point average, explaining that a lot of schools just would not take him. I saw a flash of vulnerability behind his macho faГ§ade. The next day, he asked, “Has anyone said they will take me yet?”

I thought this mother’s heart of mine would break, but I simply said no, but that I was still trying and would continue trying and that together — he, his father and I — would work it out. I had a couple of sleepless nights, wondering if I could keep that promise. But a lot of effort and a fair amount of prayer resulted in a good fit. He left for his new boarding school last week.

My middle son, Benjamin, sort of drifted through this last month when both his brothers required so much attention. I spun back to his needs just in time to find a marketing report not done and an essay that needed revisions.

Over the holiday vacation, we made sure both happened. His father took him out to breakfast and told him how much we are focused on his success. Today, I arranged for a study skills course for him, something he had asked for to help him balance his workload.

I may not have a sweatshirt and a whistle, but most days I feel just like a coach, nudging my team to victory, encouraging them, exhorting them, guiding them, loving them.