I stay at home with my children. My son will be three years old in November and my daughter will be one year old in September. This arrangement works for us for many reasons, and it works 99% of the time. Until I have a doctor’s appointment.
When we leave the house, it is an event! At the mere mention of going for a ride, my son runs to get his shoes, socks and hat (“Are you crazy, Mom? Leave the house without my hat?!”) while somehow simultaneously bringing me my shoes. We change diapers, put on shoes and hats (sometimes several different hats) and sometimes we change diapers again. When I am planning ahead, it takes us all of 10 minutes to leave the house, but when I am in a hurry it takes us thirty minutes, guaranteed. If we are leaving the house because I have a doctor’s appointment, double it. While the office is typically pretty fast moving, any parent will tell you getting caught unprepared at the doctor’s office is worse than embarrassing. As my youngest is not yet walking, I also have to add a stroller to the mix to avoid awkwardness.
I had to schedule a spur of the moment appointment a few weeks ago. It resulted in a diagnosis of strep throat, ear infection, dehydration… pure awfulness. I was asked to schedule a follow up before I left. The receptionist asked me what location, day, etc. and gave me a card for the time. No big deal right? It actually was not the worst visit ever. Then we went to the follow up visit a little less than a week later. Between multiple diaper and clothing changes, general fussiness and restlessness it took 45 minutes to get us all loaded in the Pilot. We arrived 3 minutes before the appointment time. I was feeling pretty awesome that I managed this despite my hearing being fuzzy still. I quickly pull out the stroller (in 90 degree Florida weather) and get the kids loaded and ready to walk in. I tried to sign in at the desk and my son had already run into the toy room when I am told by the annoyingly young and perky receptionist that our appointment is across town at the other location. I pulled out the appointment card that told me I was at the correct location and she looked at me rather blankly and said “But it is Wednesday. He’s not here Wednesdays.” I showed her the card again. Nothing. I try to collect my son from the toy room and he runs into the stroller and now both kids are crying as I try to open the room to leave. I pack them all up in the muggy, almost-going-to-rain heat and drive as hurriedly yet carefully as possible to the area of the other location. It is in west-something Square but nothing about this little catastrophe of buildings is square-like. I pull in to a parking lot and call the office to get more precise directions nearly 20 minutes now after my appointment time only to be told that my appointment has been canceled. I’ll admit, at this point I started crying. I had not been terribly pleasant through most of this ordeal, and so I whine to the woman on the phone who tries to schedule the appointment for an hour later (because of course she should KNOW by the way my children are whining that “their” patience is waning and that the proposed appointment is during their lunch time). Completely defeated, I hang up and I drive home.
Fast forward a few weeks after the trip to Kansas. I have another appointment scheduled. Completely embarrassed and humiliated from the last ordeal, I make a few calls and ensure that I will not have the kids with me for this appointment. I arrange for a sitter, and while the preparation time is still the same I feel as though I may have secured a little anonymity for myself (as though my kids are what are so memorable about my last visit, not the fact that I stormed out). I walk in the door feeling the lightness that every stay at home mom feels when she gets to go anywhere by herself and announce to the receptionist that I had arrived. She looks up, sweetly young and perky and says “Don’t you usually have a few little ones with you?” My anonymity shattered, I reply “Yes, but I left them at home.” She gives me a wary look and I sit down.
Now they will really remember me.
Consider this my apology to any mom I may have made a snap judgement about in a doctor's waiting room before I had kids. I completely get it.