The story of how my mommy armor recently suffered damage. Damage that still needs some serious repair.
Maybe a little background to begin.
Eslea has not been feeling well for about a week. She has red goopy eyes and is struggling to breathe as her tiny nose stays congested. After almost a week of listening to the poor child snort and gasp, I finally decided to take her to see the doctor. Since I decided at the last minute, I had to unfortunately wait for the walk-in doctor at the pediatric clinic. I have always been grateful that Eslea's doctor is so easily accessible and even more so when I can use the clinic his practice has set up for just such occasions.
Usually, I see the same pediatrician but I knew that there was a chance I would see someone new being that I was going through the walk-in. After waiting an hour, we finally managed to get a coveted examining room and again, waited. When the doctor finally arrived it confirmed that he was someone my Eslea has yet to met.
This man was somewhat older, maybe in his mid to late sixties. I am not sure how long he has been practicing in the
He underwent the regular checkup routine such as listening to her heart and checking her ears.
Somewhere amongst this evaluation, he looks at me and says....
"She is so alert. She doesn't look very retarded."
I swear my heart skipped a beat. I could feel my blood start to boil.
Somehow though I managed to tell him that "Yes, she is very alert. She is a pretty smart baby."
I had hoped that comment from me would deter any further evaluations on his part.
I was wrong.
He tried again "Well, you know there are different levels of retardation. She doesn't seem to have it very much."
Again, my southern graces and upbringing are trying with all their might to hold back my natural Italian/Irish genes from telling that doctor exactly what I thought about him.
Instead, I just smiled and changed the subject back to her health.
After he and the nurse left the room, I started to cry.
I love Eslea. To me, she is the most beautiful baby I could have ever imagined. She is perfect.
Yet after reading her chart, that doctor made an assumption about my child before he even laid eyes on her.
I know I could have used that opportunity to question his beliefs or challenge him.
But really, what would it have mattered?
I know the definition of the word retarded.
I know the negative uses of the word only have as much power as we allow.
I understand he may actually have been trying to compliment my daughter.
I understand that maybe he has not been practicing in the states for long and may not understand how that word effects people.
I also understand that there was once a time when the word was very common and I myself even used it regularly in the mental health field.
None of that matters. Because when someone uses that word to describe your child who is sitting so snugly cute while smiling and cooing in your arms... it HURTS.
A tiny little punch that made a hole right into my protective mommy armor.
I need stronger armor.