Kindness in the Waiting Room


I'm pretty good at listening. It seems like everywhere I go strangers talk to me and tell me their life story, their problems, their concerns, whatever is on their mind really. I'm talking cashiers, people in line at the grocery store, gas station attendants, servers at restaurants, etc. Family members always told me that I must have an invisible sign on me. I used to find it to be odd or annoying but now I see it as a way God can use me. Sometimes it's just listening to someone who is sad, giving someone a smile, talking to someone who is lonely, or sharing a needed word of advice/guidance. Usually in these situations I can "feel" a gentle nudge to give that kind word or smile. Here's a recent example, one that touched my heart in particular:

The other day I had to take my littlest for a checkup. Normally, I have my whole brood but on this particular day, Gramma was babysitting the older kids. So it was just me, the babe, and a few other moms and their individual children in the waiting room. While we're waiting, a momma comes in who looks like she definitely has a sick kiddo. I would know because I have looked like that - dark circles under the eyes, hair pulled messily back in a ponytail, comfortable but rumpled pants, traces of food (or perhaps something worse...) on her shirt, and a general look of exhaustion. For the sake of privacy, I'm going to call her Kelly.

Kelly was pushing a coughing infant girl in a stroller and had two very high energy but sniffling little boys tagging along behind her.  She checked in, found a spot to sit, and her baby immediately started fussing - one of those "I feel like crap and I'm going to let EVERYONE know" type of baby fussing sessions, punctuated by hacking coughs and sneezes. Kelly immediately swooped up her baby and began trying to calm her. Her boys took this as their opportunity to explore. Boy #1 started doing laps around the waiting room, while Boy #2 began to get out every toy in the box in the corner. While Kelly was swaying and shh-shh-shh-ing her daughter, she tried desperately to convince Boy #2 to not get EVERY SINGLE toy out.
Meanwhile, Boy #1 starts climbing on the waiting room chairs like the floor is lava. She makes a beeline for him and steers him back towards the pile of toys that Boy #2 has now abandoned, as he has begun trying to pull himself up on (and possibly over) the reception desk. Kelly makes another beeline, gets him down, and redirects him back to the toys and his brother. A small battle then ensues over a truck and Boy #1 begins a wrestling match on the floor with Boy #2. 
At this point, the woman sitting across from me sighs loudly and rolls her eyes like, "Can you believe this?" She looks pointedly at Kelly's boys, shakes her head, and then begins tapping away on her phone. I glance over and see the other lady next to me pursing her lips in an angry way and glaring at Kelly, like she's committed some horrible sin.
Kelly looks mortified. She breaks up the wrestling match and very sternly tells the boys to SIT DOWN RIGHT NOW. Silence falls over the waiting room. The boys scramble into seats. A nurse speaks up from behind the desk and says she needs Kelly's insurance card and for her to sign something. She gives them the mom death stare and then goes to the desk. The younger boy (#1) is itching to get up. He fidgets, bounces his leg, drums on his knee, sighs. He catches my eye, slowly slides off his chair, and creeps over like he's walking on a tight rope. He climbs up right next to me and grins at my drooling baby.
"Hi," he says.
"Hi there," I reply.
"I'm Evan. My birf-day was last week. I'm sick. What's his name?" He points at my baby.
"Well Evan, this little guy is Hezzy and he has a checkup today."
"Oh. I have checkups sometimes. But today we're ALL sick!" He sniffles and wipes his nose with the back of his sleeve.

Texting Mom Next To Me makes a HMPH noise and continues pecking away at her phone. 

"I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you all feel better soon. Are you a good helper for your mom?" I ask. He shrugs and his attention is suddenly captured by Dora on the TV in the corner. 

Kelly is done at the front desk now and turns around, with a horrified look on her face. She rushes over, apologizing. "I'm so sorry he was bothering you!" 

This is when I felt that gentle nudging. "He's fine. I have two more boys and a girl at home so I totally understand."

She smiled tiredly and said, "The baby was up all night last night, and then they were both feverish this morning, but now they're acting like total monkeys." She glances at Pursed Lips Mom who is studying a magazine with a sour look on her face. Her smile fades. "They're not normally like this..." she trails off and looks at her shoes.

"Oh, all kids have days like that." I say. "You're doing a good job."

Kelly looks up at me with awe, and her eyes are brimming with tears. "Thank you," she whispers, and pauses. "I really needed to hear that." Just then, the nurse calls her kids names. She smiles sheepishly, sniffles, rounds up her kids, and herds them back into the office.

I didn't see Kelly after that. I started this post out intending to write about Texting Mom and Pursed Lips Mom who acted like they've never been tired or sick, or had a child act up in public. I was going to detail it as another example of moms judging moms...but then I thought why focus on the negative? There's already so much stinking bad stuff in the news, on Facebook, and in the world in general. Why not focus on Kelly? We've all been Kelly at some point in time, no matter what type of mom we are or life situation we're in. We've all had a day where we've felt like Crappy Mom and that we aren't measuring up.

I don't know Kelly's life story, her problems, or why she needed to hear that. All I know is that she did and that in a small way I was able to make a tired, stressed momma smile when she really needed a smile. And couldn't we all use that sometimes?

2 comments :

  1. I love this! It sounds like you really brightened her day. I know the days I feel absolutely overwhelmed are the days when one sweet word or one "crap face" from someone else can be the difference between me completely losing it or tapping into that last bit of energy and making the best of a bad day. Sounds like you gave her what she needed for the latter. So sweet of you!

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