About a week after my son was born on my bathroom floor, my mother and I packed up the kiddos for our first trip to the family doctor. I’d never met him face-to-face…a slightly awkward phone conversation where delayed vaccines and the safety of homebirth was discussed was about the only interaction I’d had with the guy. Through a series of well-timed events I had found myself living in a new city and state, gigantically pregnant, and in need of a new family doctor. He came highly recommended by our new friends as a good, Catholic man who obeyed the Church’s teachings and didn’t prescribe contraceptives.
As we rushed about taking the then 2.5 year old Gianna to the potty and grabbing extra pairs of underwear and wipes and burp clothes and bags of Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies I told my mother, “I just hope this guy doesn’t think we’re totally crazy. I mean…we kind of are, but mostly we know what we’re doing…..generally I’ve got it together. I have to make a good impression! I need to off-set our weirdness with my organizational skills, my charm, my sheer grit and common sense…”
I should have known I was quickly heading toward disaster---I was feeling far, far too confident and in control for things to continue to go smoothly. As my mother steered my sticker-laden Volvo wagon through the slushy streets I kept up a non-stop cheerleading session regarding my mothering skills…. “I am SO prepared for this appointment! I have ALL our paperwork…..all the charts from the birth, all the paperwork proving that I already did the metabolic screens, he can’t NOT love us! Even though we’re weird and we birth at home….look how prepared I am!”
When we arrived at the office (and only 5 minutes late!) we were ushered into an exam room where I boasted about my potent breast milk (“He gained 10 ounces in 4 days!”) and thrust all the papers at the nurse. She perused them without comment until she arrived at the narrow strip of paper that proved I had already sent Dominic’s blood in to be tested for all the metabolic diseases.
“What is this?” She queried. Oh, I’d school her…. “I had the metabolic testing done at 4 days. It’s been sent to the lab, that is the proof! I don’t even need that copy, you can keep it!!”
The doctor arrived and promptly exclaimed over my darling children. He, too, riffled through the stack of papers before pausing over the metabolic screen receipt.
“Um….what is this?”
“Oh! That is the proof that I already did the metabolic screen! I had it done at four days, I had someone come to the house…..you can keep that paper….I don’t even need it….he gained 10 ounces in four days…I managed to fold some laundry this morning…” When I get nervous I babble. Especially when the person I am talking to just sits there…..silently….staring…..until finally…
“Yes, well….This …looks…like a speeding ticket.”
I teach my kids that we don’t just take things from people, but you can believe I took that paper back…snatched it, as it were. Then I did what any good, organized wife does.
I blamed it on my husband.
“Oh that’s not mine! It’s my husband’s! I’m not sure…where the metabolic screen is….the two papers look shockingly alike…..”
At that point, I had to give up my dream of appearing like the perfect mom I am not and just be myself. My mother was laughing, Doms was nursing in that newborn-milk-spraying-everywhere kind of way, and Gianna was methodically licking all the tongue depressors. Now was the time to sum things up and make a quick getaway.
I was trying to make a good impression, but here I am. This is me. Mostly, I’m late a lot, I’m constantly getting myself into ridiculous situations, and I really like to laugh. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I figure if I just make it look good, the outward signs of grace will transfer internally, clean my kitchen, get me out the door on time, and make my home the kind of place where there will be saints…or at least, the absence of parole officers.
Welcome to the fray!