Reproduced with permission from Amanda Rose Adams
Some working parents spend most of their annual Paid Time Off in children’s hospitals, specialty clinics, and/or caring for medically fragile children.
To have a “day off” with your child and spend it in a children’s hospital the way others might visit a zoo or museum is still a paradox for me after more than sixteen years. It's a bit surreal.
This is a life where gratitude always outweighs resentment because what one has to lose is so substantial in contrast to what one must surrender. And yet, one does surrender certain experiences, expectations, and small hopes in exchange for the most extraordinary hope of all.
My son was in an MRI machine when I started typing this into my phone. While I sipped Chai tea I ran into his orthopedic surgeon who has been treating him since he was two years old. I also evaded eye contact with his former cardiologist.
In my working career, I strive to be the kind of person people WANT to work with. I can’t imagine coworkers would brand me difficult. As an increasingly senior employee, I mentor daily. I coach, and I work hard to help my junior co-workers grow and thrive. As a mother, my standards are higher, my patience shorter.
I was difficult for one doctor, asking too many questions, doing too much research. I was too much for him, and our communication wasn’t enough for me, so I found a new cardiologist for the second time in my son’s life. The first cardiologist we left was ill-suited to be supportive in light of the odds we faced in the beginning. Those odds were not in our favor, and neither was his bedside manner.
Sometimes the stakes and the decisions on our shoulders demand being difficult. As a woman, I have avoided being difficult in the workplace as such a label can stick in a bad way. As a mother, I don't care about my reputation, only the quality of care and outcome for my child and all other children who will pass his way.
I know caregivers of elderly parents can also relate to this. Siblings take care of disabled siblings. We are not alone. I see you too.