On encouraging each other

by Karen on January 28, 2014

I don’t have to tell you that parenting is hard work. Especially parenting small children. When you’re toting two small kids around on a sub-zero, snowy day, tasks that would maybe be a minor inconvenience on your own become monumental, exhausting hard work.

Case in point: a trip to a doctor’s office. Before I had children, it was annoying to sit in a waiting room for up to an hour waiting for my name to be called. But there was no work involved. It was just inconvenient. Now with a 3-year-old and a 4-month-old, it might as well be the Olympics of parenting.

The first event? Getting everyone dressed and out the door. What was once complicated with just a preschooler is now nearly impossible. Change the baby’s diaper, dress the baby, feed the baby, feed the 3-year-old, dress the 3-year-old, remind the 3-year-old to go potty, bundle the 3-year-old up, change the baby’s diaper again (of COURSE he chooses this moment to poop). By the time I’ve managed to do all of this, it’s time to feed the baby again, and while I’m sitting in the chair doing that, the 3-year-old takes off his shoes and coat and sometimes even his pants, and the whole process starts over again.

If you manage to make it out the door and to the appointment on time, you now have to face the next event: filling out the stack of paperwork they hand you at the reception desk with no consideration for how you’re going to manage it while keeping the 3-year-old entertained and holding the 4-month-old in your lap. Ten pages later (including a medical history that no one reads and insurance information that they already have on file after copying your insurance card), after juggling the clip board and pen and baby in your hands while stopping every 30 second to remind the 3-year-old not to drag the waiting room chairs across the room and please use your inside voice and don’t block the entry door, and “Don’t go back there, it’s not our turn yet!”, they finally call you back.

Now the main event: a room full of shiny, expensive objects and drawers and cabinets and the trash can full of who knows what germs and those damn rolling stools that every 3-year-old is just dying to use as a skateboard so he can crack open his head on the floor. It was hard enough keeping Judah entertained without getting into anything at the doctor’s office when it was just the two of us. Trying to keep him out of trouble with his brother in my lap is pretty much impossible.

This was my experience yesterday at an appointment for Judah with an ENT to look into a minor allergy-related concern that his pediatrician had at his annual check-up. It wasn’t even a particularly bad day. In fact, Judah was being pretty well behaved all things considered. He sat next to me in the waiting room, and we made silly faces at his brother, and I quizzed him on opposites, and we talked about dinosaurs. After a night of interrupted sleep with the sleep-regressing 4-month-old, what I really wanted was to zone out, stare into space as we waited or even close my eyes and catch a few minutes of rest. But I needed not only to be awake, but to keep Judah entertained and Noah happy and avoid disturbing the waiting room full of child-free adults.

By the time I made it to the check-out desk to schedule a follow-up appointment, we’d been in the office for about two hours. Noah had been awake the whole time, and I could tell it was close to time to feed him again. I was waiting in line not looking forward to bundling the kids back up, schlepping them through the icy, cold parking lot, and buckling them into car seats to finally get them home.

I was next in line when an older woman approached me. She said hello to Judah and peeked at Noah in his car seat. “You have two beautiful boys,” she said. I thanked her.

Then she put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I was in the waiting room with you, and I just wanted to tell you, you are one hell of a good mom. Your boys are lucky.” And she smiled, and walked away.

As parents, we’re used to putting in long hours of exhausting work. We love our kids, and the reward for all of our hard work is watching them grow and thrive. There is no question that they’re worth it. But sometimes it’s nice to hear a kind word from a stranger and know that someone else has noticed how hard you’re working to take care of these tiny people. She took 10 seconds out of her day to stop and say something nice to an exhausted mom of young kids, and it made such a huge impact on my day. I’m so grateful for her kindness.

I’m determined to pay it forward. I want to make someone’s day the way this stranger made mine. I want to pay attention to the other parents around me, and notice what they’re doing right. It’s easy to judge other parents, but wouldn’t it be nice if we spent more time encouraging each other?

I’d like to try.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Three

December 5, 2013

I’m not going to do the cliche thing where I marvel at how my tiny baby has so quickly turned into this giant preschooler, and how is he THREE, how is that possible, wasn’t it just yesterday that he was born?! I’m not going to do that, I promise. But holy cow, you guys, Judah […]

1 comment MORE ...

How much is convenience worth to you?

November 12, 2013

I am allergic to paying for shipping. At least that’s how it feels when I get to the checkout page for an item I want to buy online, see the shipping charge, and back out at the last minute. Shipping feels like such a wasteful way to spend money to me. If I can purchase […]

6 comments MORE ...

Introducing Noah James …

October 17, 2013
Thumbnail image for Introducing Noah James …

I’ve been meaning to write this post for several weeks now, and the only excuses I have for not writing it yet, well, they’re actually pretty good ones. I spent a lot of time writing out a detailed birth story. I’m glad I did it, because these memories get so fuzzy so quickly. But when […]

7 comments MORE ...

Breast pumps are covered by insurance with no copays! (If you’re willing to do some work.)

July 15, 2013

When I was pregnant with Judah, I planned to be a 100% stay-at-home mom, so I didn’t invest in an expensive breast pump. It turned out I didn’t need one. I only pumped a handful of times, so a $300 pump would have been overkill. However, for full-time working moms who want to breastfeed, an […]

3 comments MORE ...

Preparing for baby 2

July 10, 2013
Thumbnail image for Preparing for baby 2

I’m now 29 weeks pregnant, and officially into the third trimester. In the beginning of my pregnancy, everyone told me I would be amazed at how different pregnancy would be the second time. That hasn’t really been the case for me. I’m struggling with the same aches and pains, nausea, and extreme exhaustion (only this […]

1 comment MORE ...

Potty training: the Final Frontier. Or something.

June 18, 2013

This is the last post I will write about my child’s toilet habits. I promise. (Well, my first child anyway.) Since I was only a few days into the potty training adventure when I wrote my step-by-step breakdown of our potty training boot camp adaptation, I wanted to share a quick update. I fully expected […]

5 comments MORE ...

Potty training in 3 days

May 28, 2013
Thumbnail image for Potty training in 3 days

Judah has been showing interest in the potty for a couple months now, but mostly never did anything when we took him in there. Just a couple weeks ago he finally started acknowledging when he needed a new diaper, so I set a goal to start the process this month after my extended maternity leave […]

5 comments MORE ...

Who is this kid?

May 3, 2013
Thumbnail image for Who is this kid?

Seriously, where did my tiny baby go? Am I being punked?

1 comment MORE ...