Last week I sat in the waiting room of the hospital with two antsy children, trying to keep one from dashing into the elevator and the other from twirling into nearby people. Our son sees a specialist whose office is in the local hospital. It's not my favorite place, but he's one of the best doctors in the area.
I'm beginning to feel the sweat beads on my face when the nurse finally calls our name... several times. I'm trying to gather our things and the children and finally cry out, "We're coming as fast as we can!"
We make our way down the hall to the room where they take vitals. I kneel on the floor to help my son with his shoes and then help him step on the scale. "Hands down, buddy!" "Both feet on the bottom." "Don't touch the wall!" "Nope -- both feet on the scale, buddy!" "Like this! Do what Mommy does!" Until we finally get a fairly accurate weight.
Over to the wall we go where I drop to my knees to put his feet against it. "No squatting." "Honey look at me -- look straight at my face." "No jumping please!" "Just freeze -- just like that!" And we finally get his height. Temperature is next and it takes a few tries -- then pulse and blood pressure. "It's just a hug for your arm!"
We move down a few doors to wait for the doctor. I'm damp with sweat now and feeling frazzled. I spend the next few minutes keeping little hands out of the trash, pulling him out from under the cabinet, placing tools out of reach, and finally quiet him in the chair with my phone. There's the light tap at the door. This doctor understands and never makes us wait long. Twenty minutes later we're gathering our things to leave and the doctor stops to shake my hand on the way out of the exam room. Distractedly, I thank him for his time and care for my son. Then he stops mid-stride and turns to me.
"Thank you for what you're doing."
He looks right at me as he says it. "You're doing a great job with your children."
I sputter out a thank you as he turns and disappears down the hall.
The doctors we see know how much I love my children. They see it when my eyes fill with tears as I ask for answers and help and describe the struggles they face. They hear it when my voice chokes and I share my fears, concerns and hopes. But he's the first one to stop and thank me and tell me I'm doing it right.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I used to bristle at that phrase and think to myself, "I don't want anyone raising our children but me and my husband. We didn't bring them home so someone else could raise them!" But I didn't understand what the phrase meant. I can get so consumed in our daily lives and in the many needs and trials and triumphs we experience that I get tunnel vision. I keep my nose to the ground and focus on our family. But when I take the time to raise my head and look around I see that we have a small village helping us raise our children.
I see the grandparents who take our children for a weekend so my husband and I can have some respite.
I see the friend who comes to babysit on occasion so we can go to an event or have a date night.
I see the teachers who text us in the morning to let us know our son isn't crying anymore and include pictures of him playing.
I see the friend who comes to our house to cut our son's hair just so he'll be comfortable with the experience.
I see the therapists who work with my son weekly, partnering with me to help him grow.
I see the friends who listen and cry and pray with me.
I see the family members who call to check in and celebrate milestones with us.
I see the doctors who answer our questions, try new approaches, take my evening phone calls and take the time to get to know our family well.
I see the loved ones who leave us a meal, send a gift card to the coffee shop or mail an encouraging note.
I see the Sunday school teachers who adapt their normal routine to include our son.
I see the strangers who have stopped in the store to pat me on the shoulder mid-meltdown, offer a smile or simply tell me, "It's OK."
When I stop to look around and see the village, I'm overcome with gratitude. The village feeds us -- our souls and our stomachs. The village teaches us and guides us at times. The village encourages us to keep moving forward one day, one step at a time. It takes a village to raise a child -- a beautiful village of people to love our family along the way -- a community of people reaching out to offer support, encouragement and wisdom. And I love our little village.