Pediatric Psychiatry: Empowering Parents and Children

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pediatric psychiatry

{ From time to time, Rochester Mom will publish posts anonymously to protect the author from sensitive information shared with our readers. }

I felt like the dark, cold puddle beneath my foot that splashed across the blacktop of the parking ramp. Scattered. Lost. A tiny warm hand cupped in mine. I had to be strong for the little person to my right, who was stomping twice as fast, happily, completely oblivious to the bigger reality of where we were going. The button of the elevator lit up and the awestruck face of my child lit up with it. Would I see anyone I knew as we walked across the street from the ramp to the building? We were headed into the Generose building… of Mayo Clinic – where the Psych Ward is.

My child sat in the waiting area, quiet and observant. A healthy, beautiful, normal-looking kid. There was nothing wrong. On the outside we appeared almost perfect. But there was something wrong. I wasn’t enough.

Would they tell me I was a bad mom? I had failed somehow and the struggles my little offspring had were undoubtedly my fault. How else could I be at my wits end, totally out of control, with no idea how to help my child. What did I do wrong? Where did I mess this up?

Soon, we went back to the clinic room. I was greeted with a smiling face. We talked with the psychiatrist and developed a treatment and therapy plan. As we talked I began to feel a weight lift off my shoulders. I wasn’t being chastised for poor parenting practices, I was being affirmed. What we were going through was hard. She reassured me these sessions and action plan were going to help.

As we came back, week after week, the fear faded more and more. The challenges remained, though. Change doesn’t happen overnight. The pediatric psychiatrist kept reassuring me. We kept at it. We wouldn’t give up. Things would get better. There was hope.

Walking through the dim parking ramp started to become normal. It would be okay if I ran into someone I knew. I wasn’t going to be embarrassed about it anymore. I knew I wasn’t enough and that was why we were there. This was what was right for us. It was good to get outside help from a professional. It was necessary.

Maybe the biggest lesson I learned in all of this wasn’t some magical new parenting tactic, although there were some extremely helpful and practical tools I gained. The biggest lesson for me was acknowledging that this baby of mine was complicated, just like anybody. Sometimes things are mysterious. It’s okay to be in that messy, complicated and mysterious place. Sometimes, I need something extra special to empower me for my child. I sought help where and when I needed it most and that took courage. I will love this child no matter what, no matter what it costs, even if it means costing me the pride of not being enough. It is okay to not be enough.

I’m so thankful for psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatric specialists, and all the other staff and resources that this clinic offers us. They have studied children, parenting, and mental health for a reason. They are there for us. They are there to tell me it’s going to be okay. They are there to help me rise to the challenges we face so that we can overcome. They are there to come alongside me. They are there to help me transform so that I can be a supermom with superpowers. I’ve been parenting in this other dimension for a while, one I never thought I’d be in, but now I have what it takes. It’s okay not to be enough. It’s then that we can grow into the parents we need to be for our little ones. Sometimes we need the pediatric psychology department to help us grow as parents, and that’s okay.

The little one pushes the button for the elevator on the way back to the car. We go home. I ponder the future and replay the session in my mind. I will embrace the difficulty of the task set before me. For now though, as I glance in the rear view mirror to the backseat, I will choose to be thankful for this hard and messy life; it means we have each other. I see the smiling face looking at me in the mirror, and I smile back.