To the Parents I Used to Shut Out in the Therapy Waiting Room
Dear fellow families in the waiting room,
I never thought I’d have a village, and sometimes on the bad days I still feel like I don’t, no matter how well-meaning friends and family are. Somehow I was blessed enough to find myself in the same pediatric therapy clinic waiting room with all of you week after week on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. As the weeks and months went on, as our kids had ups and downs witnessed often by the entire room, I realized I may not be as alone as I thought.
The more I made myself close my book, stop checking emails and scheduling, and actually talk to all of you, the more I realized there are people who get it. Even in the best circumstances, I can be socially awkward, generally having to think about what I say before I say it. In the beginning, it was so much easier to just take the time to myself and get things done. Sometimes I just went into therapy with my son. I spent the weeks watching the rest of you talking about your lives, chiming in once in a while, but sticking to myself. Eventually, I allowed myself to really try to connect rather than shutting myself in.
I heard stories that were similar to mine — the fears and the triumphs, from the not-sleeping to the hyper-vigilant state we are in, constantly scanning the environment for potential triggers and dangers. I found myself wondering with concern if a certain family didn’t show because of the big doctor’s appointment we knew they had. But beyond all that, I experienced people who didn’t even know each other sharing their lives.
You were lifting each other up with love and support, whether you knew it or not.
The feeling of sharing even just a few minutes with another person who understands the scheduling challenges of a special needs parent’s life can feel almost miraculous — someone who isn’t bothered if you have to stop mid-sentence to immediately take a call from the support coordinator, doctor’s office, school or any of the other people you have on speed dial. Or even if you have to leave without notice to attend to a meltdown.
So fellow therapy moms and dads, please let me take a second to thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for letting me see that there are people who understand. There are other people who can share so much with just a look. I can feel lonely in this busy life, but I am not alone (unless I choose to be).
Last week, one of the other moms shared one of her secret worries: “What will we do when we don’t have this?” (“this” being the constant running around, therapies, appointments, etc.). Well, new friend, I have no clue, but I do know if that day ever comes, I hope we will figure it out together. Because, fellow therapy families, you have shown me that although this may be a road less traveled, it is a road better shared.
So if the time comes when I do not find myself here in this place with therapies and appointments, I will always remember the strength and community you have given me. This gift of friendship is one I can take with me for the rest of my life, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Write a thank you letter to someone you realize you don’t thank enough. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.