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momOn a given day, you can’t throw a stone without hitting an Internet article about how being a parent changes you.

I conceded a long time ago that I’m not the same person I was before I had my son. He has made me a better person in a lot of ways.

What I didn’t anticipate is the handful of ways that being a mom has made me a worse person, or a person who does things she wouldn’t normally do.

I’ve had the hardest time finding a good pediatrician since I moved back to my hometown last year. I HAVE found one, and I’m happy, but a series of unfortunate (for them) run-ins with the runners-up has opened my eyes.

I’ve held a variety of jobs in my life, and as such, I sympathize with people who answer phones, file records, stay organized, are courteous, and don’t make enough money to deal with the average person’s bullshit. I’m not someone who yells at customer service representatives; I know the server isn’t the one who cooked my food wrong, and the cook isn’t the one who wrote my order down wrong. If I have to complain, I try to be civil and at least complain to the right person.

Except when it comes to my son and his health. In the past couple of months, before finding the aforementioned good pediatrician, I’ve had to deal with the following: 1) prescriptions not being called in when I was told they would be, or at all; 2) insurance companies telling me things will be covered and then not covering them; 3) certain pediatricians telling me they accept my son’s insurance, until I show up at an appointment made months ago to find out they don’t; 4) being referred to specialists who do nothing except refer me to other specialists—and by “refer,” I mean, call me and tell me they can’t refer me and that I have to call the good pediatrician and ASK for a referral that had already been made or else why would I be on the phone with you?; 5) rude receptionists who put me on hold and then hang up on me, don’t listen to what I’m asking for, talk down to me for 10 minutes only to end with, “Oops, that IS our mistake,” talk to other people in their office without putting me on hold or even asking me to hold on a second (so that I keep talking and am asked, rudely, to repeat myself, and told I didn’t give all the necessary information); and 6) having to request the transfer of my son’s medical records three times and having his old pediatrician and would-be new pediatrician taking turns dropping the ball and not following through.

So, I am now a person who yells at medical receptionists and pediatric nurses/doctors.

The customer service people at AT&T are safe, for now, because they don’t deal in the very important and delicate issue of my son’s health and wellbeing. Bless their upselling little souls.

In addition to reaming out negligent medical practitioners, here is a shortlist of things I do/buy/say/believe in now that I never thought I would, just because I’m a mom:

  1. Frozen breaded chicken tenders. Oh, I don’t eat them (11-year vegetarian!), but my son, like many toddlers, thinks they’re the greatest thing since Spongebob. I won’t ever ever feed my kid processed, grade F meat with fillers and additives. Oh, really now? And if he hasn’t eaten a decent bite in two days? Get thee to the frozen foods section, ya idealistic snob. (Lest anyone think my son is at risk of turning into a breaded chicken tender, a grossly underqualified former pediatrician assured me that can’t happen. I know I feel better. Also, Jax loves eggs, yogurt, spinach, peaches, and oatmeal, and eats his weight in them on the regular. And did you see my post on sneaking veggies into him?)
  2. TV in the car. Unnecessary! Overkill! Too much screen time! Nonsense. I bought Jax a portable DVD player to watch movies while we road trip around the universe looking for a decent pediatrician, and have decided that TV in the car does not count as screen time because, well, how bored were you in the car as a very small child, strapped in until you can’t move, and not knowing if and when you’ll ever be free? Also, this list is cute and all, but I really really don’t want to become a person who screams at her kid while driving. I need my energy to drive well, and my voice to scream at other drivers who aren’t driving well.
  3. Store brand diapers. I’m a walking Luvs commercial, the one that says first-time parents buy expensive, brand-name diapers, but that once they “live and learn,” they buy…the other brand-name diapers. Nope. Store brand since mid-2014 and not looking back. Guess what? If you change them before they resemble a throw pillow, they work just as well and you can save your diaper money for expensive, unforeseen co-pays.
  4. Alone time. Not for me (I wish), for Jax. The idea of a “playroom” seemed negligent at best when he was tottering around like a tiny drunk person. Now, I can recognize when he needs some time to himself, some unstructured play, or even to just stand in his room and pull his own hair for a bit without any lip from anyone. Mama understands, punkin. Here. I’ve child-proofed your room to the best of my human capabilities. Not a razor blade or rusty nail in sight. If you need a little you time, have at it, just give me 20 minutes to block all entrances and exits without inhibiting air flow or creating a soundproofed death trap from which I won’t be able to hear your anguished cries for the attention you’ll need when you time comes to an abrupt end.
  5. Under-protectiveness. The point of all this, I guess, is that I’m turning out to be not the overprotective whackjob of a mother that I thought I would be, after NICU and, well, my childhood. I will yell at idiot doctors, but that’s about the extent of my mom crazy. The good pediatrician that we finally committed to is thorough and sweet and let my little angel draw spit circles on her nice shoes. She asked all the usual questions about hot water temperatures and cleaning supplies being locked up, and then she asked if we have pets. I told her about our big (giant) baby of a dog, Eli. When she said I shouldn’t leave Jax alone with Eli, not even for a minute, I said, “I’m gonna stop you right there. This dog is family. He is two opposable thumbs and the gift of speech away from being formally allowed to babysit. I trust Eli with my son’s life.” She laughed and said, “Fair enough. You’re the mom.” That’s right, ma’am. And you’re the Doc. Congratulations, you get the job. That’s yet another thing that, after this whole pediatrician-switching ordeal, I never thought I’d say.

So there it is. You don’t have to judge me because I judge myself. But I’m the mom!