Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"I don't know"

As all of you readers know, kid birthdays always lead to the three p's: presents, parties and pediatrician visits.  Jean, Mandi and I have all spent some time blogging about the first two  p's, so today, I'll tackle the third: pediatrician visits. 

I don't know if it is common to all working moms or just me, but I dread taking my kids to the pedi.  I don't dread them for any obvious reason.  Our pedis are nice, they are great with the kids and I think they are very thorough.  I dread the visits because no matter our reason for being there, at some point the doctor will ask me a routine question about my child and I won't know the answer.  I will have to say "I don't know."  In my experience, the doctors have always accepted this answer and moved right on, as if it is completely normal that a mom won't know what her toddler ate for breakfast or when her preschooler first started feeling sick.  They've never pressed me for an answer or worse, left that awkward moment of judgmental silence we working moms know so well.  But to me, admitting I don't know how many ounces of milk KJ has in a day or how many hours he sleeps during nap time is like admitting I don't know my own child.  That I've crammed my brain with useless things like the elements of adverse possession (SPACE HOG anyone?) over important things, like which day it was that KJ got his last breathing treatment.  It makes me feel like an inadequate mom. 

Of course, I'm not an inadequate mom because I don't know how long KJ naps every day.  The truth of the matter is, he sleeps at school, while I'm at work.  In my day-to-day life, it is much more important that I know SPACE HOG than I know the exact length of KJ's nap.  (Well, that's not quite right in that adverse possession does not come up very often in securities law cases, but you get my point).  I am serving my family better by focusing on what I need to know for my job so that I can provide for them.  These other things, while important, are not of such overwhelming importance that I should be embarrassed that someone else - namely the daycare teacher - knows them better than I do. 

But that objective knowledge doesn't help when you sit there in front of the pedi telling her you don't know things that are directly relevant your child's health.   Most likely, you are sitting in front of that doctor knowing only that daycare called you 3 hours ago saying that you child had a fever and needed to be removed from the facility.  You don't know if he was acting lethargic all day long.  Or whether his appetite seemed suppressed.  You know only that (1) he has a fever and (2) you need that fever to be gone for 24 hours before you can go back to work.  Based on the center-wide emails, you might know that a kid in toddler 3 has pink eye or that someone in pre-k has hand, foot, mouth, but that's about all you got.  And that has to be enough. 

I'm sure my lack of knowledge is just as hard on the doctor as it is on me, the mom.  The doctor is asking the questions because my responses (if I knew anything) would be helpful to her in making a diagnosis.  She isn't trying to make me feel inadequate.  I just do. 

At our most recent visit (a healthy kid visit, thankfully), I had to say I didn't know at least three times.  But I tried not to feel too badly about it.  Because there were lots of things I did know about my guy, and they were all things about who he is as a person, as opposed to how many ounces of milk he drinks in a day.  Next time, instead of counting " I don't know"s, I'm going to count my blessings.  KJ is growing up into a healthy, happy guy.  That's what really matters. 


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