During my medical school years I recall a moment when someone knocked on my front door on a cold dark winter day in Ohio. It was the mailman and he had a large box that I wasn’t expecting. Surprised, I ripped open the top of the box to find out what was inside. It was an ice box, and inside of it were stuffed grape leaves (my favorite food). Grape leaves are a Syrian speciality, and my mother always being concerned with what I eat, decided to make them for me in California. She then packaged them in an ice box and sent them in the mail to Ohio. Apparently, she was Amazon.com before Amazon launched its food service.
|Artwork By Saleh Heneidi|
Many pediatricians went into pediatrics because they love children and aren’t so in love with adults (except for Jon Stewart, I love him). The only time I hear about adults from my fellow pediatricians is when we complain about them refusing vaccines or neglecting a child. And while it’s true that in the practice of pediatrics you see some adult shortcomings, on a consistent basis what I truly notice is something different and very simple. It is a commodity we all know but for some reason we don’t speak much about. There is no denying that there is nothing like the love of a mother for her child.
As part of my job, I take calls at night from concerned parents, and sometimes I get woken up at 3 am. A groggy and much less intelligent version of myself picks up the phone and usually hears the voice of a concerned mother. While I’m not here to say I want to be woken up at 3 am, I do understand why it happens. It occurs due to love, and I cannot get mad at that love. I do secretly wish it happened at 11 am though.
Most weekday of my life, I see parents bring in their children to my office, and it has helped me gain perspective on the love that my own mother had and still has for me. I once wrote an entire blog post on working with my father, but the truth is I could not be the man I am today were it not for my mother. She came to this country in the late 70’s, not knowing a soul other than my father. As her oldest child, she cared for me through every step of growing up in a country that was not her original home.
When I was at Vista Grande Elementary, she would pick me up at the end of school, and everyday I would see her minivan roll up right on time to take me home. One day there was a misunderstanding, and my mom was half an hour late, and so being in elementary school, I wound up panicking and crying in the principal’s office. My mother was so consistent in my life that things being thrown off by 30 minutes caused me to think the world was ending.
|Me during the Vista Grande Days|
She hasn’t stopped now that I am an adult either. Last week she was at the mall shopping, and she texted me a picture of 2 dress shirts and asked me which one I wanted. I responded that I had recently bought dress shirts and so I was OK in that department. She replied to pick one anyway, because she wanted to buy me a shirt. Somehow, that episode ended with me getting 2 shirts and a pair of pants. So if you see me at work, there’s a good chance that I’m wearing clothes my mother bought me (somehow, I'm considered an adult).
Surely, a short and lighthearted blog post can never truly describe how grateful I am for the love my mother has given me in life. I see examples of that same love every day in the interaction of mothers with their children in my office. The reality is that for all of us, Mother’s Day comes once a year, but for a mother every day is Children's Day. I am thankful to have a reminder of that daily at work. What I am most grateful for, however, is that I have a reminder of that in my own personal life as well. My mother turned me from a wimpy tearful kid in a principal’s office into a decent pediatrician who still wears clothes from his mom. Nowadays she doesn't have to ship me grape leaves in the mail anymore. I just come home. They taste better that way... plus, there's no place I'd rather be.