The family doctor has always played an important role in my years of motherhood. Whether it was my ob-gyn, the pediatrician or the veterinarian, I needed to feel comfortable, not judged, and able to ask anything. Some people live in the same community for years and have the same doctors. That was my life growing up in California. Dr. Cook was my doctor from preschool years until my long legs sprawled over the edge of the crinkly-papered examining table. He took care of my ear infections from swim-team, my bout with chicken pox, my fevers, aches and pains. My memories of our visits are from the waiting room where I would lean my head into the soft space under my mothers arm at her side, as she read to me the Goofus and Gallant section of the worn Highlights magazine.
What I know all these years later is that Dr. Cook was not just there to take care of me. He was there for my mother. She needed him as she raised four girls. He gave her more than prescriptions, he gave sage advice. When parenthood brings up frustration and questions, a trusted caring professional is what is needed most. With no internet to search back in those days my mother relied on her instincts, advice from friends and family and possibly the Dr. Spock book. But when you have the questions that you’d prefer not to be talked about around the neighborhood, like “How can I get my six year old daughter to stop throwing tantrums when her older sister teases her?” It is a trusted professional like Dr. Cook that you need. His advice was to take this third daughter on walks alone, to give her some undivided attention. It worked.
As the mother of four kids, I understand what my mother needed in her doctors. We moved several times over the years which meant finding new doctors each time. Some were better than others. Walking into the small room with four kids in tow I could see right away if this was going to be a good fit. Those group visits were rare, as I tried to take each alone (or with the baby in the carrier).
It is not any different with our animals. In fact if anything, I always needed to have the vet see who our Aussie was herding. My kids loved going with me. In one town, the vet saw interesting animals like birds and ferrets. Often a waiting room would have a crate of kittens needing new homes, my kids were entertained during our wait. Then when it was our turn, we’d all shuffle into the small room and Dot got examined on the metal table, while the kids looked on.
My favorite all time veterinarian has to be the one we have now, who I will refer to Dr.D. He is gentle, kind, and takes the time to listen to all my questions. We have been coming to him for the past nine years, since moving to Virginia. He helped Kitty get over some tough adjustment and psychological stress (possibly from the fourth relocation in her life). He helped me at the same time with my guilt I carried about having a stressful environment for Kitty. We got through it. At the same time, Dot became extremely nervous around the vet clinic, and Dr.D and I devised a little routine, I would let them examine her without me in the room. My presence made her more protective of me, and anxious about them touching her. Then I could come in and we’d talk about her with her calmly at my feet.
Dr. D never made me feel bad for any of that. When Dot became very sick with congestive heart disease, it was this kind man who gave us the time, the space, and the gentle words as we said goodbye to our family member. I will never forget his presence in that room and how he helped us through that difficult day. It took me many months before I could even return to their office for a visit with Kitty, just too painful.
Last week, a new chapter began as my son and I brought in our nine week old Aussiedoodle puppies to meet Dr.D. We received happy congratulations from the staff. The pups were not nervous at all, more quiet and curious. What I loved most about our visit is that this favorite doctor of mine was happy for our family, and did not say any kind of judgmental statement. “Two puppies? That’s nuts!” Nope, Dr.D was thrilled for us, examined them, gave some advice, answered my questions, and wished us congratulations! We will be visiting that office quite a bit over the next few months and years. I am confident we are in good hands. That’s all a mother really needs, right? Confidence.