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Building My Support Team

alec vanderboom

I just finished scheduling my kid's homeschool portfolio review with my "person." I can't tell you what a relief it is to have a licensed school teacher whom I trust conduct this review.

This past year, I realized that I have a tendency to have anxiety in key areas of my mothering. If I find a gentle and knowledgeable professional to help me, then I have far less anxiety in my daily life. It's not that I need everything in my life to be smooth and easy all the time, it's just that there floating "spots" of mothering that can use more TLC than others.

The three people who have really made it easier for me is my pediatrician, my dentist and my homeschool reviewer.

At first, God sort of dropped gentle people into my life. The first lactation consultant who showed up at my hospital bed five hours after the birth of my first baby was worth her weight in gold. I haven't always had perfect relationships with women assigned by the hospital administration to help me nurse, but that first one was amazing. I didn't need every baby's nursing to go smoothly once I got over the hurdle of being the first woman in my family to nurse in 3 generations.

In the past, I enjoyed great doctors when I had them, but I didn't take the time to really seek out good doctors for myself or my child. After Tessy's experience in the NICU, I knew I needed to find a great pediatrician in our new town, or I was going to pass out from anxiety with another newborn. I prayed and I looked. I ended up choosing a new doctor blindly over the phone four weeks before my due date. When I appeared at his office with a 52 hour newborn, I realized I had gotten my daughter a Family Practice doctor who saw kids instead of a proper Pediatrician. I thought God made a mistake. I was a little peeved at him! I'm like "Come on, I prayed about this. Here we are for the first evaluation which I'm super nervous about and you sent me to the wrong clinic!"

God doesn't make mistakes!

It turned out this Family Practice Doctor is a perfect support team member to me. He's relaxed. He's the father of 4 kids. He cares about my kids, but I don't get the typical topic of the month in Pediatric care. It's not "oh my gosh put sunscreen on the baby" (which I can already memorize by kid 5). He's deal is like real life medical tips. For example, at a well child visit for the 7 year old, he said "You know that chin strap on your bike helmet, Buckle it!"

I'm a little anxious when I go to the doctor. I'm usually alone with 5 kids under age 10. Someone is telling me they're bored, and the Toddler wants to touch stuff, and the baby wails to nurse right when the five year old needs a shot. We're a bit of a circus act. Add to it the anxiety that toddler has hearing loss, or whatever other concern caused me to drag sick child to the doctors in the first place, and the experience can easily become miserable.

My last pediatrician was a woman who had only one child. She liked to talk in great detail about whatever random question I throw out at her. She didn't really have a "quick chat" ready for an experienced mother. I got the "lets act like you've never had a newborn in your house ever before" type of detail. I left her office feeling stressed and judged. I accepted that treatment because I thought "Well, I deserve that. I'm doing something crazy having so many kids close together. What else can I expect from my doctor?"

What I've learned over time is that there are many people who will doubt my ability to be a good mother to five kids at once. I can't control that. Those doubt can arise unexpectedly from the pew behind me in Mass, the next grocery cart over at Wal-Mart or the grandparent who raises the "When is the Vasectomy Coming" speech outside the hospital nursery visiting room. It's important, however, that my Support Team not have that as their default setting "This Woman is automatically crazy to be a Mother of Five". It's worth the extra effort to find people who are both knowledgeable and gentle.

To keep my sanity as a stay at home mother, I have a pediatrician who "gets me" and is great with my kids. I have a dentist who makes visits easy on my kids and easy on my wallet. I've got a homeschool review who encourages me, challenges me, and provides the documentation the State requires to keep my kids off of truancy charges.

Some women have a nanny.
Some woman have their Mother who lives in the same town.
Some women, like me, are mostly on their own while caring for their kids during the day.

As someone who is by herself with the kiddos, I need a good support team that's got my back.
I found that I can deal calmly with the crazies at Walmart that smirk "You've got your hands full, don't you?" while I have exactly two children near my person.  I don't need every interaction to be smooth and positive. Not everyone has to get "Stay at Home Motherhood." Not everyone has to like me and my kids.

But life is so much easier when a few key people "get us", the Benjamins.

Homeschool Reviewer.

Three specific people that make my life so much easier.