That’s the kind of parenting that I am doing right now with my daughter who is a high school senior. Actually, I’m struggling to be a transitional parent as I am so used to being a hands on all the time mom… and still am to my 12 year old and 8 year old… but my high school senior is very ready for me to let go, and let her go.
But oh this is hard.
I’ve heard all of the stories for years. I didn’t doubt them.
But it is different when it is YOUR CHILD!
For the last almost 18 years, my entire world has been wrapped up in keeping Maddie well. Every decision, every plan, every possibility has been weighed against the potential medical response that Maddie might need. I can’t explain it really. Maddie’s medical needs have been an ever present issue. And now, it is terrifying to let go and help her walk away and prepare for college.
And she is doing it.
Maddie applied for college the first weekend applications opened. She was accepted almost immediately.
Maddie has been to a scholar’s preview and has accepted her first scholarship.
Maddie is taking ownership of her scholarship essays and telling me to butt out.
Maddie is ready to take on the world.
Her momma might need some counseling.
It really is amazing how wonderfully Maddie is doing right now. She is the healthiest that she has ever been. She is confident and strong.
These were the days that we prayed for when she was little and things were so scary.
So we are in a time of transition.
May God have grace on parents of high school seniors!
This week we took my daughter Maddie to a new specialists. This was her 22nd Specialist. Twenty-two times we have sat in a specialist waiting room and have answered countless questions. 22 times. This number doesn’t even include dental/oral specialists, physical therapists, and all the other extra doctors/practitioners we have seen over the years.
We left frustrated.
We left a little more resigned.
We left a little more heartbroken.
So here are my thoughts, not that any specialist will ever see them.. but it makes me feel better to get them on paper. I realize that there are many specialists out there doing a fantastic job and making a huge difference in the lives of children (Dr Wasserman is our hero!) But for every incredible doctor we have seen, we have a handful that have left scars.
Those scars hurt.
And when your whole life is about finding help for your child, having a specialist add to the wound is wrong. I truly don’t believe they realize what they are doing… so here are my wishes and recommendations:
My child has a name.
Please make an effort to talk TO my child, not at my child. Even better, call her by name! The best way to make a connection is to find a few moments to get to know the patient. I realize that you don’t need a connection, but WE DO!
Read the medical chart before entering the room.
If we are seeing you, the likelihood is that there is a reason! Please don’t ask us simple questions about diagnosis and referrals, we need to see that you have read the chart and have made an effort. And really, when I have to explain what the primary diagnosis means or how to spell it, how can you expect me to trust anything else that you have to say?
Honor the work that we have made to get here.
You may not agree with what other doctors have done or said in the past. In fact, you may not see any reason for us being in your office, but please honor the work it has taken to be sitting in your exam room.
When you ask a question, listen to the answer. Don’t assume that you already have the answer. We can tell and the best way to get a child to stop answering your questions is to show her that you don’t really care what she has to say.
Don’t discount our experiences
My child has been sick for 17 years. I have sat in countless doctors offices and have experienced more than you could ever imagine. My daughter is in the 1% club for side effects, allergies, and illnesses. I’ve lived through the fine print! Please, don’t discount our experiences. Just because we don’t describe it exactly how you read it in the textbook doesn’t make it any less valid.
My child is more than a test result and quality of life matters
I realize that your care is driven by and dependent upon test results, but those things don’t mean much to me. I care about my child and the fact that she is hurting. When tests results mean another dead-end, can you please offer more than “well, at least we have another no..”
Do a thorough examination
My daughter told you that she had seen 21 other specialists for a reason… She didn’t like your vibe. You then proved it by doing a minimal examination. bummer. You proved you didn’t care right then.
Acknowledge that you don’t have the answers
After 17 years of consultations and testing, I don’t expect you to have the answers. I pray daily that you do, but I don’t expect you to do so. So instead of brushing off symptoms and clinical observations, acknowledge that you don’t know what to do! We will honor that and invite you to join the journey.
Imagine life in our shoes.
I’m guessing that living life as a speciality doctor gives you the understanding that you are the smartest person in the room most days. Well, being the smartest person in the room may or may not be the case, but you could at least be empathic! I don’t imagine you have ever considered what it would mean to you and your mindset if you had to go through life knowing that no matter what you did, where you looked, or who you talked to, you couldn’t make things better/heal/fix your child!
Please leave me with hope
At the end of a consultation leave us with hope. Please. Instead, after sitting through an almost 2 hour visit you said there was no reason for a follow up unless the blood work came back “icky.” Really? How hard would it have been to leave us with the “I’ll be in touch” or something tinged with hope?! But to make a decision that we aren’t worth your time before even seeing test results? really? nice.
So what do we do? We continue to fight. We continue to research on our own. We continue… It seemed awfully easy for you to look at us and say that the current medical research doesn’t have a unifying diagnosis for my daughter. But it’s not easy for us.
and so we will continue the fight, we will continue to search, we will continue to hope.
Sandwich Parenting… parenting your own children and parenting your parents. It isn’t easy. Maybe that’s why it’s called that, cause being caught inside both ends of the spectrum means that you end up smooshed like a piece of expired bologna.
Today was one of those days.
I don’t put this out there to get a woe is me. I am not a martyr. But I am very much the mom of three kids that need me and the daughter-in-law turned parent figure of a very vocal and needy mother-in-law. My husband takes the brunt of his mother’s ire, but man, oh man, parenting a parent while parenting your own children is difficult.
Below is a snapshot of two REAL CONVERSATIONS this morning…
with the 7 year old
Daughter: Can we go to the storage building? Dad: Why? Daughter: To get a dollhouse couch. Dad: Not today. We are all sick and getting in the storage building would be bad for our allergies. Daughter: (Tears) Why can’t I ever get what I want? Why don’t you understand me?…
with the 77 year old
Mom: Can we go to the storage building? Son: Why? Mom: I want to look for some perfume. Son: Not today. We are all sick and getting in the storage building would be bad for our allergies. Mom: (Tears) Why can’t I ever get what I want? Why don’t you understand me?…
It’s the daily conversations like these that wear on your soul. You expect to have fights with your kids. That’s part of parenting. But having duplicate fights with a grown woman are hard to take on a daily basis.
What is truly frustrating to me is that I watched my father-in-law have these same conversations with his mother and Doug’s mom wasn’t happy with incredible stress that was placed on her husband because of it. By the time I joined the family Doug was a grown man and his parent’s were retired while caring for Doug’s dad’s parents. But here I am watching the same situation, next generation, but our children are small enough to still need lots of parenting. I am trying my absolute best to not be bitter. Some days are harder than others.
So for those of you out there living in the land of sandwich parenting, let me say, you are not alone. It is tough and it feels like no matter the decision you make for your parent it isn’t the right one, but hold on and enjoy the very rare and brief moments when all the ingredients in the sandwich create a masterpiece.