Being Close and Pushing Away



It's national Nurse Practitioner Week, and I am thinking about what I love about my job when I wander into the exam room with Suzanne and her 15-month-old daughter, Ellie. Suzanne plays with Ellie as I rummage through my folder looking for the most recent growth chart. When I look up, Mom is all smiles as the little one reaches for her hair and playfully gives it a tug.

"What a lucky baby little Ellie is," I remark as I glance at the loving dance between the two. "As she gets older, are you and your husband thinking about a second child?" I ask.

Suzanne responds with sudden and (for me) unexpected tears. "No, Fred went and got fixed. We're done making babies," she explains.

I continue to be touched by how close to the most important issues in another's life my life as a nurse practitioner takes me. There is no time to rush through a patient visit, no time for a quick call reminding my husband to pick up a pizza, nor time to spend on paperwork. This very moment is the most important moment in my life right now.

"I just want to hold on so tightly to every bit of her being a baby," Suzanne shares. "I can't stop looking at her face, tickling her toes, and laughing whenever she giggles. Every second seems like the best moment in my life."

"I see how she looks back at you," I remark. "She seems to glow from feeling your love and attention." Suzanne reaches out and gives Ellie a gigantic hug.

It's not easy being a young family these days; it's a constant challenge to balance the financial, emotional, and physical energy required to parent with the joys and challengers of being a mom and dad. My job often is to direct a parent's attention back to their little one, to focus on the fruit of their labor, to remind them that parenting is the most important work they do.

Suzanne and I laugh together as Ellie pushes free of mom's hold and toddles across the room with an air of determination and confidence. "I guess all those hugs paid off!" Mom exclaims. I couldn't agree more. "They paid off for Ellie, and for her mom, didn't they?" I reflect.