Dear Pediatrician, Handle Me with Care

Dear Pediatrician,

I realize that we rely on you way too much for too many things. I am sorry, and guess what I am going to ask of you even more; Please handle me with care. I realize I am not your patient, my child is. I realize that every week you see a hundred or more parents who bring their kids in with the same symptoms, the same concerns and the same crisis. 

I ask still, please handle me with care when I bring my children to you. Please remember that they are not the only ones hurting or sick. I, the parent, am hurting inside and sick with worry. I realize your focus is on figuring out the equation of symptom + symptom = which drug you prescribe so that I will walk away happy. 

But here is the thing. You know what would really make me happy? Is to feel heard and not shamed. 95% of what I am looking for when I walk into your office is:

1) To know I am not crazy. To have someone to bounce worry and ideas with, without being judged.

2) To be given hope, optimism, confidence, we have a plan, I can do this.

3) To be reminded I am not failing in every way possible at this parent thing (because guess what, if I am in your office, that is EXACTLY what I am thinking).

What would make me happy is to have confidence in you.  To have confidence in you is to be heard, to be empathized with as a person. To have confidence in you is to know that when you don't have an answer, you tell me that. You refer me to someone else, you say, you think a dietician, a counselor, a chiropractor may have a different perspective than you have and open that door that empowers me to go look for a well rounded understanding of my child's issues. Do not shut those doors and call me crazy for looking outside of just your bubble of knowledge. 

What would make me happy is feel validated, whether you agree with me or not, you can acknowledge my feelings are my feelings and should not be dismissed. I already feel crazy for having the feelings I have, I already think I am losing my mind (doesn't every parent?). Please handle me with as much care as you would a postpartum hormonal, anxiety bundle of a mess of a person, because oh wait, that is me, exactly me regardless of how old my kids are. When it comes to my kids, that is me within a second of walking in your door. 

What would make me happy is when we do not agree on a plan of action with MY children, remember my fear or lack of agreement has nothing to do with thinking you are uneducated. It has to do with that I am the one living with these decisions. I am the one who gets to go home and sit up all night with a screaming child when your solution doesn't work, or when things get worse, or when everything in my gut is screaming NO this is not RIGHT, I am the one who lives with the guilt of having not done enough. The burden of the right choice does not lay the most on you, it lays on us. Please handle me with the care you would with a person making a decision about life support. Sometimes even though you know that this is not a life or death situation, as the parent, we feel like it is. 

You often get to see me on my worst days. Handle me with the care with which you handle my child. By the time you see me I am a walking time bomb of shame, guilt, and worry. Handle me with care as if I may explode any second because that is how I feel. Remind me I am doing a good job. Remind me that you are listening. Remind me that my feelings are valid. Remind me that I am doing the best I can and every parent has been through this. 95% of what I need from you are these things when I see you. You got one class, if that, on counseling or bed side manner, and yet this is the majority of how you build trust with your parents to comply with and be open minded to your solutions. So I thank you in advance, before you walk through the door, breathe and handle US with care. 



P.S. To those pediatricians who do an exceptional job of handling the entire family with care, thank you. Thank you for making the choice to prioritize patients over insurance dollars and rules for lengths of visits. Thank you for aligning your personal values with the decision of where you work and who you work for. Thank you for your craft of making us feel heard and validated. Thank you for remembering how you felt when you were a parent of kids that age and for being human alongside of us.