Badge of Honor

I have been having a lot of trouble stopping myself from worrying about big things, so I am forcing myself to focus on the good.  One of the surprising things I really like right now is my security badge.  Parents of kids who are patients here at the hospital get a badge that we wear around our necks identifying us as “THE PARENTS” and functioning as a key card to get us in and out of all the locked doors.  Since just about every door is locked, I have been wearing it constantly for almost two weeks and feel an inappropriate amount of love for this piece of plastic.

First of all, I decided it has something to do with the string – it is just so soft. It’s like a shoe lace and it isn’t itchy or stiff at all.  It’s worn in like an old t-shirt.  That must mean that many parents before me have likely worn this badge and their strength must have softened the string. The badge is also the perfect weight – not too heavy and not too light- so it lies just right and I don’t feel it all.

I do have an objection to the fact that the imprint repeatedly says, “I Love Children’s Specialized Hospital.” I think that is pushing this whole happy place thing a bit too much. Children’s hospitals like to make you think you are in Disneyland and everything is a part of a new and improved ride to nowhere with bright colors, cute pictures, and nurses wearing happy face scrubs. I appreciate the effort, but I think it would be more appropriate for the string to just say, “I am currently staying at Children’s Specialized Hospital, but I really want to leave.”

One of most important things the badge does is send secret signals to everyone we come into contact with.  It is very powerful.  First, it says to the nurses, staff, therapists, and doctors that we are a force to be reckoned with, that we have done our research, and we know our child’s condition better than anyone. It says to the security guards at the front desk that we don’t have to explain our strange comings and goings and that when we smile politely at them, they will wave the visiting hour rules just a little bit.  The single most important thing the badge does is send a message to every other person wearing the same badge that we “get you,” that we are hugging you even if we don’t even speak, that we really do want to talk, and that we already love your child because we see him working so hard in therapy.

I have taken to wearing the badge even when I go home every now and then. I feel like it might explain why I am walking my dog in pajamas and snow boots in May, or why our grass is 10 feet tall, or why haven’t done whatever it is that I was supposed to do for you.  I am sure it just looks like I work in some office building, but for some reason it gives me just the right amount of courage to face the day and shows the world that for right now things just aren’t the way they are supposed to be.


6 Responses so far.

  1. Stacy says:

    This post made me laugh and then came the tears. It reminded me of why I still wear my “livestrong” bracelet. A “badge, button or bracelet” shows the world and reminds us that we are on a journey in lands only a “selected” few will hopefully travel. Walk softly and carry a big stick, Warrior Mom!

    • sheri says:

      You wear that bracelet and you tattoo it on your forehead if you want to – you earned it my friend.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Believe me… the nurses know that you are staying at the hospital but that you really want to leave. We see behind the polite smiles… and we do get you… even if we haven’t quite walked in your shoes. Especially us mommy nurses. The bright colors and happy face scrubs sometimes lift the spirits just enough to bring out the resilience in the patients… especially the children… who’s at the moment smiles then remind us all of the true strength within all of us to just make it through the next few hours… then the next day… then the next week. There is a lot of pride in those plastic badges. I put mine on as well, and it reminds me each day what privilege it is to be present in my patients’ and families’ lives at such a vulnerable time. It’s an honor to care for you… A gift that you let us in not only to your hospital experiences, but your lives. We don’t just get to know the patients… We get to know the people you are. We carry those experiences with us… And not only does it make us better nurses, but better people too. Sending love and hugs.

    • sheri says:

      We feel genuine love for our nurses when they come in at the right time to do whatever is needed. We especially loved one of the nurses who was with Max right after the surgery for a few days- she had such a caring, strong way about her. I have been thinking so much of my friends who are nurses and some of the kids I know who want to go into nursing. We appreciate you so very much – and it takes a little pressure off even the most seasoned moms when we just don’t know what to do. Much love and thank you.

  3. June says:

    You give me insights and understanding beyond my own experiences. You do it with love and humor and strength that fills me with awe and love.
    Thank you for sharing this with me and helping me to appreciate you and Max and the whole family and the human family even more.
    What a gift you give us! Thank you dear Sheri, thank you.

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