I'm A Pediatrician, And This Is What I Want To Tell Parents (But Don't)

by Alison Escalante
Originally Published: 
A newborn wearing white clothes smiling while being held in the air by a pediatrician
simarik/Getty Images

Hi, I’m your pediatrician, and I have a secret. I know you’ve always suspected it, but you never knew for sure. You show it with your behavior every time you ask me not to judge you for something or tell me you don’t want to be that mom.

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You worry what I’m thinking about you while your children are jumping up and down on the office equipment. You wonder if I will dismiss the story you’re trying to tell me. You wonder if I will judge you because you don’t have it all together. You worry that if you do admit you don’t have it all together that I’m going to give you impossible advice.

So here’s the truth: I really am thinking things about you I don’t tell you. Because I don’t think you’ll listen.

I want to tell you that you are too hard on yourself. That anyone can see how much you love your kids and how hard you are trying. I want to tell you to give yourself a break. To stop driving yourself bonkers trying to find just the right parenting method.

I want to tell you that I understand when you get cranky with your kids, because they sure can be adorable little monsters. The operative word being monsters.

I want to tell you the kids will be fine if you drop one of their activities, so you can have some time for something you enjoy. What I actually tell you is to consider dropping one of their activities for their benefit because they are overscheduled and overstressed. I do this because it is true, but also because I think you won’t believe me if I tell you that what you need would be reason enough. That you don’t have to run yourself ragged to be a good mom.

I want to tell you that your kids love you and want you even when they are rude to you. Because no one else can be mom. Because mom sits in the center of early identity formation, and nothing can shake that loose.

I want to tell you that you are enough. That you have what you need to be the wonderful, connected mother you want to be. That you frequently are. That I respect you and honor you.

I want to tell you that when you look at your child like that, you are beautiful.

I want to tell you that we are in this together.

Did you know my other secret? It goes both ways. I live in your neighborhood. I wonder what you are thinking about me when you see me with my kids in Costco. Because that’s full-on crazy-eye mom territory for me. I wonder if you’re not going to trust the advice I give you when you see my kids acting up at school drop-off. I wonder if you are under the illusion that I have it all together and if you will think less of me if I tell you that I don’t. Will it be comforting and helpful to you if I reveal it?

I want you to know that my kids are the light of my heart too.

And if I could, I would tell you that there are two things you can cultivate which seem to make a huge difference for your kids. They are presence and curiosity. Mothers who are present, really present with their kids, feed that deepest of human hungers for authentic connection. Mothers who are open and curious know their kids in a way others do not and always end up finding the help they need.

I am your pediatrician, and I have a secret. Don’t tell.

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