Thursday, November 4, 2010

growth charts, check-ups, and fear of man

I have "fear of man" issues. Just wanted to put that out there.

What is "fear of man," you ask? In his book, When People are Big and God is Small, Ed Welch (who is infinitely smarter and more qualified than I am) puts it this way:

"Fear in the biblical sense . . . extends to holding someone in awe, being controlled or mastered by people, worshiping other people, putting your trust in people, or needing people. The fear of man can be summarized this way: We replace God with people . . . When we are in our teens, it is called 'peer pressure.' When we are older, it is called 'people-pleasing.' Recently, it has been called 'codependency.'

I have a history of "fearing" other people, caring entirely too much about what they think of me. Generally, I either bend over backwards to fit in or declare myself a rebel and do everything differently just because it's different. If I fail at fitting in because I tried not to, then I didn't really fail, now did I? (I also have fear of failure and perfectionism issues, but that's a whole other post.)

I'm telling you all of this because, at regular intervals since becoming a parent, I've had to turn around and look my fear of man issues in the face. Maybe you've had this experience. They're called well-baby visits, otherwise known as check-ups.

Before every check-up that Lyndon has had, there has been some developmental or health issue that I have researched, freaked out over, worried about, tried to change (ever tried to teach a baby to roll over in 2 days?), and ultimately made myself (and sometimes him) miserable because I'm afraid it will reflect poorly on me as a parent. I'm afraid the doctor will judge me and think me a bad mom.

Lyndon has an appointment on Friday, and this one has been no exception. After comparing Lyndon to all the other babies around us (another sign of fear of man is comparing yourself to others), I have concluded that our child is horribly underweight and will probably be put on a strict regimen of formula supplements as soon as the doctor sees him, that is, if I'm allowed to keep him, seeing as how I'm clearly starving my child.

Nevermind that, according to the WHO growth charts, he is actually a perfectly healthy weight and height given the size of his parents (I'm 5'1" and 100 lbs. soaking wet) and that a significant percentage of the babies we know are actually above the 50th percentile for weight (some waaaay above it). Nevermind that he's obviously happy and healthy: developing perfectly, sleeping well, crawling, learning sign language, giving kisses. Nevermind all this. The doctor clearly exists to pass judgment on my parenting skills, and these appointments are obviously all about me and my skills.

Whoops. Did I say that out loud? See, that's the thing about fear of man. It seems so humble, almost self-deprecating. You think you're terrible and worse than everyone else? Clearly, you need some self-esteem. But, actually, it's a form of pride. All interactions with others are about me . . . either validating me and making me feel better about myself or confirming how terrible I really am. Instead of loving people like Jesus did, I'm using them. What if, instead of worrying about my precious reputation (to a doctor I see once every few months), I concentrated on listening to her advice and asking her good questions? How much more would that benefit her and my son? What if my goal in all of this was to love like Jesus, first my family (Lyndon and Adrian), then others (my doc and her office-mates)? How radical would that be? And how radically different would the week before a check-up look?

1 comment:

InDeeds said...

I totally agree - these check ups can really be stressful if you let them. Phoebe had her 4 month visit today, and in addition to worrying about her weight gain (which ended up being wonderfully average) my heart also skipped a few beats when the doctor asked "does she transfer toys from one hand to the other?" and "No" was the answer that came to mind. Turns out the doctor was not concerned...I guess she will figure out the toy-transfer-trick in her own time :-)