The Good Mother

Brenda Norwood was a single mother, doing her best. Her new boyfriend was not necessarily helping her deal with Sadie, and Sadie was a handful.

Sadie was the most sullen teenager I had ever run into. Her hair was orange, her eye makeup looked like something in a late night movie, and she wore a dog collar around her neck. She seemed to despise her mother.

For a brief while I thought I might be able to reach Sadie, but I was mistaken. Her attitude in general, and mostly toward her mother was so terrible that I did something I had never done before: I asked her to leave the room.

Brenda and I talked for a while alone. I gave her some suggestions about what she could do, counselors she might want to call, even the psychiatric hospital’s outreach telephone number and the youth crisis stabilization hotline.

Sadie was physically healthy, and as I wasn’t able to do much for her or her mother, I saw neither one of them for a while. Then one day I heard from Autumn what was happening with Sadie. I swear, Autumn knows more about what is going on in this community than anyone else, even when it comes to the small minority that she isn’t somehow related to!

Word was, Sadie was pregnant, and the father was Mickey Leblanc, a nineteen year old with a similar background history. We were surprised to hear that they were getting married soon after the pregnancy became public knowledge.

Imagine my surprise when Sadie and Mickey brought their newborn son to see me. I must say I didn’t quite know what to expect. There was Mickey, now working as a painter, wearing his work overalls, calm and completely focused on what his son and young wife were doing; Sadie, a pretty strawberry blonde with earnest, kind eyes and a soothing voice, was completely focused on the most beautiful baby boy, a calm, contented little soul, whose entire being seemed to be one with his mother.

Without missing a nuance of our conversation, Sadie did everything automatically for her baby as if she had done it all her life. She was in charge, and Mickey was in quiet attention, ready with a cloth or a hand when needed.

The other day I saw little Sam for his four-year-old well child visit. As usual, Sadie and Mickey were both there; Mickey in paint splattered overalls as usual.

Sam counted fingers, wrote down numbers, named colors and copied shapes for me. He walked toe-heel along the floor tiles and he hopped on one leg.

“This is the five year old stuff we’re doing at age four,” I pointed out. Sadie and Mickey both beamed.

“Sam is a great kid, you know that,” I said. “And I’ve told you this before: You two are doing a great job with him.” Still vividly remembering Sadie in her dog collar, I added: “He’s smart enough that if he gets bored or sees the adults around him not measuring up, he could turn into a real handful for you.”

They both smiled knowingly.

2 Responses to “The Good Mother”

  1. 1 cathy October 25, 2008 at 5:55 am

    Isn’t that a neat thing, when two teens can find each other and get their lives turned around. Evidently these two were good for each other.

  2. 2 sara June 23, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Lovely story. I just stumbled across your blog today.

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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.



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