Took the rugrats to the doctor for their annual physicals.
Now usually I break this up, take one kid one day, the other kid the next.
But I was feeling ambitious, daredevil-ish, killing two birds with one stone and all that jazz.
The second we got there my Rhema-girl turned into a skittish pony, ready to kick and bolt.
Taking the temp, standing on the scale, putting on the blood pressure cuff? Not. happening. in. a. million. years.
So she sat in a chair with her iTouch and sobbed and wailed while the doctor conducted Hope’s physical.
It was a chaotic scene.
Doctor: How’s Hope’s asthma these days?
Hope: Dr. W., what’s that thing called that you use to look in my ears?”
Me: Pretty good.
Doctor: Is she still taking the Flovent twice a day?
Hope: Dr. W., why did God make ears?
Rhema: (Snotty sobbing)
Doctor: Do you need any refills?
Hope: Can I wear your stethoscope? Can I listen to your heart? Is your heart bigger or smaller than the Easter Bunny’s?
Me: Hope, stop jumping on the table.
Hope: Can I have 10 stickers???
And that’s when Rhema bolted out the door. I followed close behind as we weaved through a maze of corridors. I tried taking her hand and coaxing her back to the office. But she wanted out. We got lost as she speed-walked down various hallways looking (I assume) for the exit.
She found the medical records room instead. Uh oh.
I reached for her just as she dove under a rolling table stacked with files. The table tipped over and the files crashed to the floor. Quickly I stood the table up. A woman in the records room, none too pleased, helped me pick up the files. Rhema was already halfway down the hall.
At one point she collapsed into a heap on the floor and would not budge. I rubbed her back, urged her to walk with me. Then, minutes later she was up and running again.
I could hear Hope calling me. My sweet Hope – I’d just left her with the doctor. We turned a corner and there they were – Hope, the doctor and a nurse standing in the hallway. But Rhema didn’t stop – she ran right past them.
“I’ll be right back!” I called.
It took 10 minutes for Rhema to calm, and another 5 before she allowed me to lead her back.
“Come on, sweet girl. Let’s go get Hope. Then we’ll go home. I promise.” I said it over and over, not knowing if she even understood me.
By the time we found Hope I was thoroughly ruffled, discouraged and embarrassed. I had expected Rhema to do so much better at the appointment. I felt horrible for just leaving Hope behind – something I’ve had to do one more than one occasion – when Rhema’s safety seemed more at stake. Many people witnessed me trying to soothe, coax and lead Rhema – unsuccessfully – I looked like I had absolutely no control. I felt silly for the tears of frustration threatening to spill.
With my one free hand I took Hope. Rhema was already getting upset again and pulling me away.
“Thank you,” I said apologetically to the doctor. The doctor did not know me well, but had surely seen me frazzled and overwhelmed before. He quickly handed me some paperwork which I stuffed under my arm.
“I just want to tell you I admire your patience. You’re a great mom, and I think you’re doing a wonderful job with these girls.”
At first I wanted to laugh that he could say that to me in light of our mega-fail afternoon. Wonderful job? It was the exact opposite of what I’d been thinking. And then I thought I might cry. You know how it is – when sometimes, on a tough day, a simple kind word or deed – is all it takes to undo you. It’s all you need to keep going.
*This particular doctor’s visit actually happened last fall. But I will not forget how how his words helped me bravely hold my girls’ hands and lift my head a little higher. How often we think we’re botching the whole motherhood thing up, but maybe someone else sees the love, the glory in our mess. It reminds me of something another desperate mother named Hagar called God after His words comforted her. She said, “El Roi. You are the God who sees me.“