I left the office shaken up. They had pronounced him healthy, growing, thriving. She even said a cheery “No concerns.” Both doctor and nurse commented on how well behaved my other children had been at this check up. They smiled and laughed as my kids answered their causal questions, hearing how smart, respectful, and observant they were. It was obvious they thought highly of my little tribe. It was all going well until I declined a medical procedure. One that was totally optional and medically unnecessary. “No thanks. We’ll skip that today.” I said politely. The mood shifted and the conversation creaked to a halt. A faded, badly printed waiver was waved at me along with a pen. Sign this and they’d have me on my way.
But I didn’t. I wouldn’t. I did not agree with what the document stated or ambigously implied, and was not about to release my parental rights by doing so. Instead I asked a few questions. What was this for? Did I have to sign it? Was there an alternative form I could sign instead?
But my concerns fell on deaf ears. No longer was I the good mom with the healthy, well mannered kids. No longer was I the person in the room who knew my children best. I was a time-waster. A lengthy distraction to the rest of the doctor’s busy day. An uneducated, overprotective worrier. None of this was said–only implied through curt answers and one-sided discussion. My concerns were not addressed. My worries were not relieved, or even open to discussion. It was this or I’d be shown to the door.
So I politely told the doctor I’d take the waiver with me and think about it, and bring it back with a signature if I wanted to stay in her practice. She smiled, uttered an awkward goodbye, and left the room. And I hauled the three kids out feeling a bit humiliated and unnerved, but proud of myself for trusting my instincts in the face of intimidating opposition.
Weeks later I stumbled into a conversation between three seasoned homeschool mothers. Their topic was the special needs of their children and the lack of resources and support offered by the school district. They discussed the tactics they used to try and get the help their children need, because clearly, a discussion, an inquiry, their asking for help, was not enough. They presented children who had real, unique needs. Challenges far beyond the simple answers of “Let’s just wait and see how he does.” Or “We’ll assign you aid.” None of this was a good enough answer for these motherr. They had been there and done that. So here they were, turning to each other for help when the experts failed them.
My phone buzzed later that evening, with a text from a friend. Through our exchanges I could sense her own frustration with the academic situation surrounding her sweet girl. A bright, gifted, extraordinary child who learns differently than most. They had tried it all. Different schools, different programs, different teachers. Specialists, therapies, testing. And still she struggled. My friend feels the pain daily, never knowing what kind of child she will pick up from school at the end of the day. One who has been uplifted, challenged, and praised for her differences. Or one who is defeated by the constant struggle of fitting into a system and timeline that just doesn’t seem to work for her.
We mothers are experts at standing on the front lines, face-to-face with opposition. We know what is best for our children, in our families, at this point in time. We are smart, loving women who fight tirelessly for our babies.
But we are rarely seen that way by those who can offer help. Instead we are the problem. We are the paranoid, the overbearing, the difficult. And all because we simply want to advocate for our children. Because we seek an alternative. Because we live with them every single day and know that what is often arbitrarily recommended is not necessarily what is best for this child.
We are experts of our own right. Knowledge gained firsthand, tested by trial, error, and careful study. But when our motherly wisdom steers us in a direction different from that of the leading research, we are shamed into submission or coerced by fear.
But at the end of the day, these are our children. Children who depend upon us for their existence. Children who need our never-ending love, support, and wisdom. Children who do not possess the maturity or life experience to make difficult decisions on their own.
We parents are their voice. We are the champions of their cause. We hear them best and love them most.
And so in the disapproval of the experts, I advocate. I ask the hard questions, the ones the experts wish would just go away. Despite the looks, the attitudes, the inadequate alternatives, I keep pressing on. I find a different doctor. I educate myself better. I look for those whom I can help and who can help me. Others can call me difficult. Call me overbearing. Call me anything they want.
Because I have three precious little stones, and they call me Mom.