Monday, April 26, 2010

The Waiting Room

Five-thirty a.m. this morning found me lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling, a dreadful pit forming in my gut. Not the way I usually like to start my day, but on my agenda was a trip to the gynecologist for my yearly exam (t.m.i--too much info? Sorry), and no matter how hard I try not to, I always end up working myself into a sweaty, nervous wreck by the time I get there.

Hoping to get the appointment over with as quickly as possible, I climbed the three flights of stairs with optimism, only to feel my heart sink when I squeezed into a chair in the packed waiting room. It was obvious my visit was not going to be speedy. The worst part was that I had forgotten my book so I had no choice but to people-watch. Perusing the waiting visitors in hopes of finding someone or something interesting, I settled into light despair--almost everyone was absorbed in either a book or their cell phones. Drats!

That's when a young mother with two toddlers in tote and a baby car seat trudged in. We could actually hear them before we could see them. The mom lugged the car seat on one arm while she balanced her diaper bag and backpack on the other and herded her small children to the only available seats--right next to me. As the crew made their way past the rest of the visitors, the mother announced rather loudly, "We'll try to be as quiet as we can." I couldn't help but grin as I wondered if she realized she had already broken the peaceful mood.

Oh, goodie, I thought, this little family will at least provide some entertainment while I wait. No sooner had my thoughts formed than this darling woman announced to the entire waiting room that she was there to get birth control (definitely a little t.m.i, don't you think?). She then pointed to her children and said, "Can you tell why?"

That's when I noticed her children were all very young. After talking with the oldest, a little girl, I found out she was only three and was trying to get rid of her binky and get potty trained. Her little brother was nearly two, and the baby was three months old. Wow! As a mother who has been through the stage of three small children (not that close together, however) I have humble adoration for mothers who are managing such an ambitious load. I've decided that no matter who you are, if you have three children under the age of four (or something close to that), you are in over your head! Some mothers may not be willing to admit it, but it's nonetheless true. That doesn't mean they aren't perfectly capable of loving and handling their little ones, but it does mean they are doing the hardest job ever, and they are more than likely exhausted in every way by the end of the day.

I couldn't help but notice that this dear mother's children, like many children those ages, were quite a handful. The poor lady never sat still for longer than 20 seconds. After about ten minutes, I thought of her promise to be as quiet as possible, and giggled to myself. They were anything but quiet as they pushed chairs up to the fish tank, ran around the waiting room, begged for snacks, and asked when they could go home. It was all so familiar to me, I sat there with a knowing smile. Before long, the mother was ripping covers off the waiting room magazines to make paper airplanes. That worked for about . . . two minutes, and then she was taking them for their third drink to the drinking fountain, and pulling out cars from her bag, and so on.

I noticed some of the other visitors had set their books down by now so they could enjoy the entertainment as well. One lady volunteered to help keep the two-year-old from escaping, and it was at this point I decided I would put my visit off longer to let her go ahead of me. I couldn't help but wonder if there was anyone in the waiting room who had come to the doctor with the intention of hoping to get pregnant soon who was having second thoughts.:) But I watched this young mother patiently deal with each new scenario, and a new kind of lump formed in my throat. I saw how resilient she was as she ingeniously thought up new ways to keep her kids entertained (I have to say, the looks on people's faces when she started tearing pages out of magazines for paper airplanes was a little priceless!), and I was filled with awe once again at the miracle of motherhood.

It was a scenario I've seen or experienced myself many times over as I've struggled with children at a doctor's office, or a grocery store, or anywhere else I've dared drag them along, and to me, it's the greatest sign of selflessness and love there is. I looked around the waiting room once more at each woman there and wondered what their stories were. I'm sure most, if not all, were mothers or hoping to be mothers. I watched one very young girl and found myself wondering if she was just beginning this journey, and I couldn't help but think she had no idea what kind of roller coaster ride she was hopping on, but it was sure to be filled with excitement! I watched another expecting mother waddle painfully to the back when they called her name, and although I have no idea what her struggles are, my eyes filled with tears for her willingness to endure discomfort to carry a child and bring it into the world.

That's what motherhood is about. That's what it's always been about. Love, sacrifice, unending service, pain, embarrassment, laughter, selflessness, and my personal favorite--pure joy. I endured my appointment and rushed home to my own children with a renewed gratitude for the gift of being a mother. It is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also the most rewarding. I wanted to tell that young mother to hang in there because one day she would look back on this time of her life and realize it was one of the greatest, but I didn't want her to lose optimism for the future!:)

Instead, I silently thanked her for reminding me of what I've always known, but sometimes forget: I am profoundly grateful to be a mother!


Taffy and Tony said...

Thanks! I'm not quite in the same boat as this mom, but I do need the reminders sometimes that despite the struggles, this really is a WONDERFUL time of my life! By the way, I never thought of the magazine cover airplanes, but if I'm ever desperate, I'll know what to do!

Evelyn Perkins said...

I like this post. I don't have anything anymore insightful than the wonderful words you have said. I just like it. Ü

The Shaver Gang said...

Thanks for this post, Lori! I need to remind myself when I am feeling stretched to the limit, that stretching is a "good kind of hurt". There is the saying that says, "if everyone threw their troubles in a pile, you would reach in and grab your own back-Quick!

Julie Thurgood Summerhays said...

Ah - thanks for the great afternoon read - love it!!

Casey and Tami Parry Family said...

Thanks for all your posts. I don't ever comment but I do read and I appreciate the way you put things into words. I'm almost always in tears when I finish reading because you describe the way I feel so often but can't explain very well. Thanks for the encouragement you give to all of us.

Brian and Rebecca Nate said...

I think that I would be that woman; except that I only have 1 out of control 2 yr. old. I hate going to the doctor with him, he is always such a menace. I wouldn't trade him for the world, though. Both my kids are truly the best!