I see you in the waiting room at a pediatric mental health professional.
I recognize that you are having a hard time.
I have been you….I am you.
I saw your daughter dart across the parking lot without looking for cars. I saw your son yelling at her to stop. I saw you look up in distress as you unbuckled a car seat.
I was watching out for your little one to run back across. That’s what moms do….we watch out for one another. I waited very patiently before driving, even though I am sure you imagined that I was frustrated.
I stood behind you to check in. While we waited, I saw each of your children run to you over and over again. I saw your frustration as you told the littles to stop filling cups of water. I heard you instruct the older two to begin their homework, as you handed your smallest one your smart phone to keep him busy.
I noticed your yoga pants and ponytail. I saw that you badly needed a pedicure. I could tell you desperately longed for a break.
I saw you struggling to keep the littles contained in a busy waiting room with gentle reminders of “inside voice” and requests to “please start your homework.”
I listened as you asked the receptionist if the doctor was behind in his appointments. You were polite….but I heard your frustration as you hoped for the answer you needed. You told the receptionist that you had been there before, but the wait was too long and you had to leave. You needed someone to hear you.
I heard you.
I saw you explain directions to homework pages, and then quietly sigh when the children went back to work. I saw you pick up a magazine, only to be interrupted before you could read more than two sentences.
I recognized your frustration when one after another asked to go to the bathroom.
I saw your jaw tense when you gritted your teeth and took a deep breath before speaking to the kids. I heard the plea behind your words….”please, oh, please be good.”
I wanted to hug you. I wanted to take you out for a pedicure and a glass of wine. I wanted to listen to you. I wanted you to know you are not alone.
I wanted to cry for you. I wanted to cry for myself. Your desperation and frustration felt so close to where I have been so many, many times.
I have no idea which of your children was there to see the doctor. I have no idea what kind of challenge you are facing.
But I do know that you are doing a great job…..and I do know that you will make it. I know you are struggling…..and I know that your children are loved.
I hate people who can’t mind their own business…..but I became one of them. I couldn’t help myself.
I gave your arm a squeeze and whispered in your ear…..”hang in there. It does get easier.”
You were surprised. You laughed it off. You were maybe a bit embarassed….a bit uncomfortable.
I hope you heard me. I hope you felt the compassion behind my words.
I hope you remember. I hope you find time for yourself. I hope you stay strong.
I have been you……I am you.