October 10, 2006

Growing Up

"Your daughter is really cute." We're sitting in the pediatrician's office. Let me rephrase that, we've been sitting in the pediatrician's office for close to an hour. There's a woman next to me with her toddler son and she's talking to the woman next to her with a sleeping 18-month-old girl in her lap who is dressed head to toe in Halloween-themed clothing.

"Thanks," the woman replies. "I love Halloween." I nod. Her daughter does look cute, and we love Halloween too. It's the topic of the discussion many days in our house lately. Sass eagerly awaits the mail every day for her pirate costume hard-won off ebay.

"Last year," the first woman says, "I dressed my son in a different Halloween outfit every day for two weeks." She throws a glance at my kids in their playclothes.

I look at them too. Dressed? Check. Hair brushed? Check. Their shirts match their pants and no one is still in their jammies. It's a good day for us. I'm trying to think back to a time when I had enough disposable income to buy 14 seperate Halloween outfits to celebrate the holiday, but I'm coming up empty. I turn my attention back to digging through my purse for my debit card.

Did I mention we'd been sitting in the waiting room for an hour? My kids -- dressed for our 65 degree house -- are flushed and tired in the tiny, warm sitting area. We've read all the books, sang songs, played games. We've never had to wait more than 10 minutes here before, and the doctor removed the toys from the waiting room last year after a bad flu season. Now we're just plain ready for our names to be called. Sass sits at my feet looking at magazines and Party Girl is sorting through the flyers on the table in front of us. She stumbles, falls, and cries. I pull her up on my lap, but after giving me a sloppy kiss she squirms back down.

"I love how she sits so quietly in your lap," she says loudly to her neighbor. Her neighbor whose toddler is napping in her lap. There's sweat on my forehead. I'm hot. I'm tired. Her neighbor smiles a faint smile. Her eyes meet mine and I think I see her shoulders shrug a little.

My girls have gotten up and are playing together now. I'm relieved. Party Girl loves Sass's attention, and they're both happy and smiling. I sit back a little in my seat. Could I pick up that O Magazine? No, better not try. They start running back and forth in the small space next to my chair. I consider telling them to stop, but they're being (relatively) quiet and they aren't in anyone's way. Suddenly Sass trips and knocks PG into the wall. Crying ensues. I sit Sass in the chair next to me to cool off and cuddle PG as long as she'll let me. Soon they're both back looking at magazines on the floor. Where is the doctor? I sigh to myself.

"No. No, Logan, you can't get down. I don't want you getting in any trouble." She smiles a little smugly when he placcidly tucks back into her breast.

Am I supposed to feel ashamed? Maybe. All I feel is sorry my kids are so hot, hungry, and bored. Ok, and maybe I'm a little irritable too.

We finally get called in. After another 30 minute wait, Party Girl is deemed on her way to good health and we head home. Standing at the counter to pay my co-pay, I see her still sitting in the waiting room. There's sweat on her brow now too, and she's struggling with a very impatient little boy. Suddenly he leans over and bites her hard on her shoulder. She grimaces and her eyes catch mine. I try to keep my smile kind. I've been there. Very recently.

"I don't know what's wrong with him," she says quickly. "He's not usually like this. Usually he's my sweet little guy, but now he's really acting up." I want to tell her she doesn't have to defend him, that he's so little, and it's been a long wait. Instead I smile at her again and we head out into the relief of the cool morning.

I remember being her. I remember when it was easy and I tried to take credit for that. But as I mature as a parent I find that I have less answers and more questions, and I know with certainty there are as many ways to raise a child as there are children. A part of growing up as a parent for me means being confident in my parenting and in my children, and being able to deflect criticism from other mothers. (And why are moms so critical of each other? That's a post for another day.) I didn't know I had gotten there, until yesterday.

Did you see that? That was me letting things roll right off my back. It's a new feeling for me, and it feels pretty good.


Blogger Lauren said...

Moms are critical of others. Why is that? We should be helping each other not judging. I could have a few posts about that too. UGH>

October 10, 2006 3:21 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Good job, B. If your kids sat placidly in your lap during a long wait at the doctor's office I'd be worried about them. That's just not kid-appropriate behavior.

October 10, 2006 6:23 PM  
Blogger Jenn (formerly gibby23roarof84) said...

You know judgemental moms are my favorite topic, right? :) I don't understand it--what makes some women smile and accept that with kids, you just have to roll with the punches, while other moms feel like they need to be delivering the punches.

October 11, 2006 2:26 PM  

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