After my oldest son was born, I found it nearly impossible to leave the house. We lived in the city without on-site parking so just getting to the car was a bit of a hassle. Then there was the issue of lugging a heavy car seat. And what if he needs to eat while we’re out and do I have enough diapers and ohmigosh is that spit-up in my hair.
So, yeah, leaving the house was kind of a pain.
And yet there was one outing that I looked forward to, that I never missed, that I wrote in big letters and circled on my calendar: his pediatrician appointment.
The doctor appointments gave my days — heck, my week — a sense of purpose, something to prepare for and look forward to. There was free and convenient parking. The staff oohed and ahhed over my baby. And then there was the glowing angel that came into the room after a nurse had checked my son’s weight and other vitals — my son’s doctor.
I didn’t even realize until my son was two months old that his pediatrician wasn’t actually a doctor, but a nurse practitioner, but by then it didn’t really matter. She was the one I wanted. When I started writing this post I couldn’t even remember her name, and I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if she was a blonde or a brunette (a quick Google search has since refreshed my memory), but I will never forget what she said to me at the end of every appointment.
After she finished scribbling her notes, she would look at me and say, “You’re doing a good job; keep it up.” And then she would walk out the door.
And with those words, I will also never forget how she made me feel. I wanted to cry and hug her all at the same time. I felt such a profound sense of relief to know that I wasn’t actually failing at this whole motherhood thing because I wasn’t breastfeeding or because I cried myself to sleep most nights or because I didn’t want to hold my son all the time or because I prayed for my son to sleep just five minutes longer. No, I wasn’t failing. In fact, could she be right? Was I actually doing a good job?
For those few minutes after she left the room, with her words — You’re doing a good job; keep it up — still ringing in my ears, I felt like a rock star. Like a superhero. I wasn’t just surviving motherhood, I was freaking killing it! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Not only was I keeping a tiny human person alive, but he was growing and thriving! He was healthy! He was happy! He was smiling and moving and ohmigosh, I might actually being doing a good job! His doctor had said so.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my son’s first pediatrician a lot lately and what a gift she was to me during those crazy, confusing, and just so-damn-hard months. She was a cheerleader, a champion, a voice of reason. She said what I needed to hear. I don’t need to know the hazards of extended pacifier use or which bottle is best or whether it’s normal for a baby to wake up three, four, or five times at night (it is). I needed to be told that I was doing a good job, to keep it up.
You know, everyone needs a cheerleader from time to time. Maybe all the time. I mean how great would it be if you had someone standing outside your door before a difficult conference call chanting, “You are awesome! You got this! You are going to own this conference call!” Or how reassuring would it be if at the end of a long day someone held up a sign that said, “You’re #1” or “Best Mom Ever” or even just a sign that read “Tomorrow Will Suck Less”.
I’m convinced this is half the reason so many adults sign up for marathons these days. We do it for the support and the camaraderie, so we can hear people chanting our name, encouraging us to go on, reminding us that we’re doing a good job, telling us to keep it up. I mean, no one actually wants to run 26.2 miles, do they?
Okay, so some people actually do like to run 26.2 miles, but that’s beside the point.
The point is we get caught up in the daily grind and the minutiae of our lives from time to time. We dwell on the mistakes and the chores that didn’t get done and the things that went awry. We play out worst case scenarios and compare ourselves to the person down the hall or the neighbor down the street or, worst of all, the snippets on social media. And we forget that we’re doing a good job. We need someone to remind us. We need a cheerleader. Because, my gosh, doesn’t life feel like a grueling marathon sometimes? We need the cheerleaders standing on side of the road, holding their signs and ringing cowbells and shouting out GO YOU! YOU’RE AWESOME! YOU GOT THIS!
So here I am holding my internet sign in the form of a hastily written blog post saying: YOU’RE DOING A GOOD JOB. KEEP IT UP.
P.S. Jennifer H. at Town & Country Pediatrics, I know this is long overdue, but THANK YOU. You are a lifesaver. A cheerleader. A champion of the best kind.