Just when I thought I’d seen the last of our pediatrician, there I sat, in his waiting room once more.
Because my child, who is old enough to grow a beard, is now in need of his inoculation records for school. Yes, I know he’s been there two months already. Yes, I know this should have been done in August. Yes, I know he’s a boob.
Yet, there I sat.
And, since I’m still showing signs of black lung, I had to enter through the “sick” side, not the “well” side, of the pediatric office.
I felt like a leper.
I was so mad at him in that moment that I couldn’t even see straight. Although, that may’ve been the pink eye I felt I’d just contracted from one of the little patients with a suspiciously leaky tear duct crawling around my feet and up the leg of my chair.
Looking around, I decided I was cured of baby fever.
I forgot about this stuff! Those poor mothers. They looked tired, defeated and hungry. I wanted to take their hand in mine and commiserate. Well, not the hand that was holding the snotty, crusty tissue. I wanted to let them know things will get better!
By the year 2037.
Until then, I’d like to offer these nuggets:
1. As hard as you try to scrub the mascara from under your eyes each night, it’s useless because that’s not mascara. That’s infant-onset dark circle disease, for which the only cure that exists is 25 years away.
2. It’s perfectly OK to be sad. I cried for three months after my first child was spit out. Partially because of the surprise episiotomy, but then, the brutal colic erupted. No one told me about colic. I was miserable and that old cure-all, catnip and fennel, couldn’t be found anywhere. Something about it not being FDA approved, illegal, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Sad is OK. Eyeballing the bridge is not, so never, ever be ashamed to ask for help. Scream, if you must.
3. You will never sit down to a real meal again. You will feed your baby a spoonful of mashed plums and you will happily take a mouthful yourself. Rice cereal? Yum. That’s the only way you’ll get fed. It’s hard to hold a baby and feed yourself. Unless you put a long straw in your margarita, then you can just lean over and slurp.
4. Once, solo showers were a fun treat. Never again.
5. Shirts with no breast milk stains were also once fun. Maybe wear a rain poncho to feed the little bundle?
As an added bonus, when the margarita spills, it’ll roll right off you.
6. LEGOs are the devil. They appear in litter boxes, in dirty diapers, in toilets and under your bare feet at 4 a.m. Ban the LEGOs.
Whatever you’re doing, if you’re doing it with love, it’s right. An infant will never remember you walking the floors with them at night to calm their cries, and then hitting their head off a door frame in your delirium. He won’t remember you sat in a pediatrician’s germ-filled waiting room for 55 minutes, holding a tissue to his nose and kissing his forehead repeatedly in order to gauge his temperature.
Your child will, however, innately know you held him with the shroud of protectiveness of a she-wolf. Your child will know you did your absolute best.
And then, when they get to college, they will beg you to pick up their vaccination records, plus a set of “black-out” drapes, new underwear, a bag of sunflower seeds and those tricky Tide pods to send their way.
And you will do it.
Because we are mothers and we can.
Plus, I still feel slightly guilty about that head-off-the-door-frame thing.
Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.