It started with ramblings like this: “Lord, I’m tired of being the Mom who other Moms look at to gain an appreciation for what their child has in the area of hearing and the ability to focus. I am tired of being the one who gives everyone else “perspective”. I whined and complained a bit and then went on with more important things until my profound day of perspective began.
Mitchell and I had an audiology appointment to have his hearing aids checked. He has a mild to moderate hearing loss and wears bilateral hearing aids. We were used to these appointments in the huge medical office high rise. Parking wasn’t usually an issue but this day it was horrible. We were already pushing the appointment time and then we got behind a lady in the parking garage who was just parked still waiting for an elderly person to back out of a parking spot so she herself could park. There were 8 cars backed up behind me and I was getting restless. There was room for the lady in front of me to pull over to the right so that we could pull around her and look for another spot but she wasn’t budging.
I so badly wanted to honk my horn and my impatience was growing fast. Mitchell, as if reading my thoughts, says to me, “Mom, blow your horn!” I suddenly got spiritual and said, “You know Mitchell, I really want to blow my horn but I’m trying real hard to have patience. And you know what buddy, there’s a song I know that will help us both have patience. It goes like this…..” I started singing the song “Have patience, Have patience, don’t be in such a hurry….”
After singing two verses I realized the lady wasn’t budging. Somehow I thought if I sang the song loud enough she might move over to the right, but to no avail. So I then started improvising. Now the song went like this: Have patience….BUT I DON’T WANT TO HAVE PATIENCE!!! Have patience….BUT I WANT TO HONK MY HORN!!!! Don’t be in such a hurry…..etc.
Mitchell was in the back seat cracking up and singing along with me. After about the sixth verse I ran out of sassy comments to make and something came over me and in that impulsive instant I laid down on my horn. The woman in front of me put up her hand as if to say, “What do you want me to do about it” and I instantly regretted my impatient move. I had spent the last ten minutes resisting temptation (in a sassy kind of way) and then I blew it…literally!
Finally the parking slot cleared and the lady in front of me was able to pull in and I peeled out around her to the next parking spot, which happened to be four places over. I told Mitchell to hurry and get out because we were running late. As we both got out of the car I noticed that the lady was pulling a stroller out of her trunk and she glanced our way. I quickly looked away not wanting to make eye contact but I got a clear look and her and I knew she got a look at me as well.
I grabbed Mitchell’s hand and we ran off through the parking garage to our office. Well, somehow along the way we got lost. We climbed several spooky flights of parking garage stairs only to wind up at one of those parking booth things where the train crossing arm goes up and down when you drive up to it. So there we were just standing at the parking toll booth thingy but with no vehicle. I laughed in my head thinking “Okay, God, I got it. I will have patience next time, I promise!” The lady looked at me sort of weird and I said, “I’m lost. Can you help me get to our Doctors office?” She said, “Honey, it’s across the street! How did you end up here?” I didn’t bother to tell her it was the wrath of God. I just took her directions and off we ran.
We made it to the office and I got in line to sign my name and give insurance information. Mitchell loves this office because it has a cool kid’s corner with an aquarium. He took my bag from me and put it on a chair while I waited in line and he ran off to the kid’s corner. As the lady in front of me finished up her sign-in procedures she turned slightly and it was then that I realized WHO she was….it was the lady I had blown my horn at. I quickly threw up my hand to the side of my face and looked down at the floor. I was sure she didn’t see me. But I had to quickly come up with a plan to hide from her because I was not about to let her see me.
I gave my insurance stuff rather quickly and made a dive for the children’s corner. I figured I could blend in with the carpet if I got low enough and maybe people would just assume I was a kid at heart playing in the germ pit.
My Mom always loved to quote to me, “Be sure, your sins will find you out!” And that rang so true as my cell began to ring from across the room. I had forgotten that Mitchell took my bag and put it on a chair. So my phone is ringing and I’m in a real lurch because I knew I needed to answer it in case it was regarding Sophie. I took a chance that the bag/phone would be in the opposite corner from the lady I honked at and ran to the sound of my phone. At this point I could almost hear God laughing out loud because there sits my bag right next to the lady I honked at. I turned the opposite direction to answer my phone just in case the “out of sight, out of mind” thing was a reality. If I ever needed it to be, it was now. And guess who was on the phone? MY MOM! Oh, the irony. We talked for a few minutes and then hung up.
I was quickly scouting out my route back to the children’s corner but realized that it was blocked by a woman and her child that had come in while I was on the phone. Who knows, maybe they were hiding from someone they honked at in the parking garage. There was no way in. I had to sit next to the woman I had just impatiently honked at.
Over the next five minutes God began to put before my eyes an incredible picture of His grace in my life and in my children’s lives. I finally gave up on hiding and just looked at the lady and saw for the first time that sitting on her lap was an adorable down syndrome daughter the same age as Sophie. What happened next was the most sobering of all. In walked a cute Mom with her three year old daughter. Mom was on a cell phone and sorting through papers and pointed for her daughter to sit down next to the lady and her downs child. The little three year old immediately noticed that something was different with this little girl sitting on her Mom’s lap and she didn’t want to sit next to her. The Mom didn’t know what was going on and kept telling her daughter to sit down in the chair and the daughter kept refusing and then the Mom realized why she didn’t want to sit down and it just got to be uncomfortably awkward for everyone. The Mom just stared straight ahead knowing full well what was going on. My heart was breaking into a million pieces. I know what it’s like, on a small scale, to have other kids recognize something “different” in your child (like hearing aides) and wishing it could be different for their sake.
The next thing I know, another young Mom about my age walks in with a severely handicapped son. He had a tracheotomy and was lying completely horizontal in a wheelchair. This was his way of life. I could only imagine what daily life was like for this family.
A few minutes after that walked in a younger Mom with a baby a few months younger than Sophie. All of her extremities were deformed and her head was larger than normal.
Then walked in a Mom and teenage daughter who had a severe hearing impairment as well as a major disability of some sort. The daughter kept telling her Mom, “Mom, does that lady (a random lady in the waiting room) have a puppy?” I loved how her Mom said, “I don’t know, go ask her. But honey, wipe your chin before you go. But you ask her. You can do it.” And so this very awkward girl, in a high pitched voice that was hard to understand, would ask each person in the waiting room if they had puppies. It was uncomfortable for many people including myself.
I sat there with my heart just aching for these children and their families. I knew I didn’t even have a clue as to what they experienced on a day to day basis. I was at one time complaining to God that my son, with a mild to moderate hearing loss and ADD, was the one providing “perspective” to others and how I was just tired of that. And then God, in His amazing teachable moment, clearly painted a real, live picture for me. Never once had that waiting room been filled with that many people. We were at a Pediatric ENT office and I had never seen a special needs child there before. This was unusual. It was divine. It was humbling. And it was a lesson in perspective that I will never forget.
As I told this story to a friend of mine she said, “You know, Melody, you should have said to that lady you honked at: My impatience got the better of me. And God, in his humor, would have me stand in line behind you and sit next to you in the same office. Would you forgive me?”
And she’s right. I would go back and do some things differently. As one of my mentors recently said, “Melody, look for the next opportunity in patience because there will be one and it will be a true test….did you really learn from this or is it just a good story?”