The Train of Life Keeps Moving Forward

by Nancy Wurtzel on April 17, 2012

When I was a kid we rarely went to the doctor.  Something had to be broken or one of us knocked unconscious — for a prolonged period — before my mother would toss the afflicted party into the back seat of the car and speed off to the only clinic in town.

That’s right, there was one medical group in our little Minnesota hamlet.  Our family doctor, a general practitioner who delivered me, treated all of us –mom, dad, my two sisters and me.  The town four doctors (all men) practiced together, which made it near-impossible to change physicians should you want to do so.

There was no ‘getting a second opinion’ or requesting your medical record and then discretely moving on to a doctor with a better bedside manner.  You made your choice and you stuck with him because it was a small town and options didn’t exist.

Writing this today, I have to laugh.  I’ve seen so many doctors as an adult that my head spins just thinking about it.

I can’t even count the number of internists and general practitioners I’ve seen over the years and if you add in specialists, well that number spikes pretty high.  Honestly, I’m not THAT picky and I’ve never had a really serious illness.  So why the plethora of docs?

Well, I’ve moved around, unlike my parents who stayed put.  I’m also pretty savvy, so I’m not afraid to change physicians if my symptoms are not being taken seriously.  And, I go to specialists rather than relying on just one doctor to take care of all my medical needs.

So I’m better off, right?  From a technical standpoint, absolutely.  However, there is something to be said about a medical person really knowing you as a person.

My daughter will soon be 18 and we’ll be transitioning to a regular doctor soon.

We’ve grown weary of the incessant cries of the newborn babies, the coughing toddlers stumbling about, the alphabet wallpaper and the dozens of little chairs lining the walls (once so cute!).  Not to mention the germ-infected toys scattered across the waiting room floor (not so cute anymore!).

Lizzie is almost an adult and beyond all that stuff.  We are both beyond all that stuff.  Ready. To. Move. On.

Yet, I’m starting to feel weird.  It’s not that I regret the decision, I just feel odd knowing that we may never again be in her pediatrician’s office.

Another phase in my daughter’s life has passed.  She’s not a kid anymore.  She’s a young adult who is getting ready to go off on her own.

I feel as though I’m on a train, which was once manageable because it lumbered along at a slow and steady rate throughout my daughter’s childhood.  Suddenly the train is moving faster and faster and I can’t seem to get my footing.  Off balance, I desperately want to slow it down, but it’s too late.

Like the train, life keeps moving forward, whether you want it to or not.

Note: I’m traveling for the next few days, and I thought you might enjoy reading one of my early posts.  This one was originally published in late 2010, and I’ve made just a few edits.

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1 DarleneMAM April 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I know what you mean. I have a 21 y o sonwho wants to continue with ihs female pediatrician and I have an 18 y o daughter who knows it’s time to move on. Life keeps moving and changing and so must we. Nancy, you are a gift to me.

2 Nancy Wurtzel April 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Oh, what a lovely comment. I feel very fortunate to have met you!

3 Cheryl April 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

We too rarely went to the doctor as children. As an adult, I went through several GPS when I first moved back home. One retired, one became a geriatric specialist and two didn’t listen to my complaints which were ultimately confirmed by specialists. It was sad when my son left the pediatrician and weirder still yet when he started going to my doctor. Life does move on but we are the owner and operators of our bodies and know ourselves better than any doctor every could.

4 Nancy Wurtzel April 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Good points! Thanks for reading and for the comment!

5 joanna jenkins April 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I can’t count the number of doctors I have either….

Although I don’t have children of my own, I remember a similar conversation with my mother (of 5 children) many years ago– She felt like it was a changing of the guard so to speak– I was taking her to the doctor instead of the other way around.

Time marches on. sigh.


6 Nancy Wurtzel April 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Hey Joanna, Thanks very much for coming back to read and for the comment!

7 Claire Clements April 17, 2012 at 10:39 am

Hi Nancy, I can tell you are at the point where your child is growing up and moving off. I wrote this the day i took my child to college. I love your writting and thought you might enjoy how i felt that eventful day. claire

Her long blonde hair blew behind her back as she strode off to the door of her new dorm home. I wanted to reach out and draw her back to me to hold her close one more time. To really hug her and let my love for her pass through our bodies. She had attained her goal of going to a great college, but in the pursuit of that goal as exhausting as it was for months, I never gave thought to the fact that she was leaving me and starting a new life. Time had passed all too quickly as if it were a movie and the credits all of sudden started appearing. To me she was this cute five year old with jagged blonde hair, and a huge smile. She had a cast on her leg on the first day of preschool and a cute Mexican blue dress with ruffles. Now she was a budding young lady with legs as long as a sleek giraffe and a golden mane of sunshine. She was confident as she walked away, but all the while knowing I would start to cry again. Just like when she went to preschool. She knew that I was crying inside, but smiling on the outside so as not to show her how much I was hurting. It was a good well deserved pain, but a huge loss none the less. I had groomed her to seek independence and be confident along the way. I had taught her to embrace life and reach for goals. I had taught her to climb the provincial ladder and never look back. But couldn’t she give me one more glimpse of that beautiful smile as she strode across the grassed path to the dorm. Could she see or feel that although she was starting a new beginning, I was ending a long enduring journey in my life. Did I tell her all the pitfalls to look out for? Did I warn her about partying too much? I know I told her to respect god and to live his way, but would she remember? There was so much I forgot to say. There were so many times I took for granted that she was here in our house kissing me good night and saying don’t worry mom, I’ll be alright. How do I turn this off as a parent? The love of a child is so great that it has to be divine. It is the true definition of happiness to have someone that loves and needs you. It is indescribable. I am so grateful to have known this joy and now to feel this pain. To all the parents of teens starting their last year of high school or even starting high school. Take a moment to really look at your child, and hold them. Take the time to teach them all that you forgot to by example. Go with them to their favorite spots and hang with their friends. Be there with them while you have a chance because time is too swift, and you can’t stop it. I know this is just another kid heading off to school, but it is also a letting go of motherhood and all its gifts. What a gift is it and was. Claire Clements

8 Nancy Wurtzel April 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Claire, What a truly beautiful comment. Thank you SO much for taking the time to write all this wonderful advice and about your own journey!

9 Linda Landers April 17, 2012 at 9:27 am

I get that feeling of the train moving faster and faster – wonder if it is our progressing years, or our children’s that causing that feeling?

10 Nancy Wurtzel April 17, 2012 at 9:35 am

Probably both! Yes, it really does feel like the train is speeding…more than half our lives are gone and I feel as though I’m just getting started. Tx for coming to read…as always!

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