To all of the doctors and therapists who have worked with my daughter in the past, and especially to those who are currently working with her:
Thank you. Thank you for being constant sources of support and information for me, and for working so hard to teach my daughter the skills she needs to be successful.
As an SLP student (and I’m sure this is standard among the other therapies as well), they teach you that you will not only teach a child in therapy, but will also become a counselor for parents. I am thankful that you have been taught those skills. You, my daughter’s therapists, have laughed with me, you have celebrated Scarlett’s victories with me, and at times, have comforted and even cried with me.
You have called and sent me texts asking how Scarlett is doing and have asked if there’s anything I need from you to help her succeed at home. You have helped me navigate the flawed system that is early childhood intervention, given me advice for how to receive the best care for my daughter, and I cannot thank you enough for that assistance– there are times where I would have been completely under water without it.
Thank you for being constant. There are days where you knock on our door or I walk through yours and I dread seeing your face. It has nothing to do with you personally, you are wonderful– but therapy takes a toll, even when it is going well. I know that there are days where Scarlett can be difficult, and I know there are times where she must frustrate you.
Even more than that, I know that I cannot be the easiest mama to deal with– I know too much. I am not the type of mother to sit back and watch how things play out or to allow complacency where my child is concerned. I can be emotional– I know this. I can get angry when things my child needs and is entitled to are denied, even when that is not your fault. I try my best not to take that out on you–I know you have no control. But I know you can sense my frustration. I can get upset and overwhelmed, because as I said, therapy is taxing. There are times where you offer a therapy suggestion and I refuse to do it, because even if it may be beneficial, I won’t put my child through it. But through all of this, you show up. Thank you for your consistency.
It’s a weird thing to be a parent of a special needs child. I am my child’s mother and I know her better than any other human being on the planet– but there are things that you can do for her that I cannot. There are things you can teach her that I cannot. That is a strange thing for a parent to acknowledge and accept.
It is strange to know that in some ways, you hold my daughter’s fate in your hands. Your choice of therapy strategies and your skill at executing them are a lot of what determines how well my daughter functions– whether that be socially, physically, or mentally. Sure, there are skills that my daughter would accomplish with or without your assistance– but there are also skills that she may not. And even if she did acquire those skills on her own, she may not execute them well.
I truly hope that this responsibility is something that you recognize and take seriously. Second only to my husband, my children are the most important humans in my life. I would do anything for them. But this is not something that I am capable of doing, and as I said, that is hard for a Type A mama to accept. I cannot force you to take that responsibility seriously, as much as I wish that I could. I know that all of you are exceptional human beings, or else you would not be doing the job that you do. It truly takes a special human to work with special needs children, to do it well, and to do it with love and compassion.
But while you’re working with my girl, I need to be confident that you are loving and teaching my girl to the very best of your ability. For however long you are with her, I am forced to trust that you have her best interests at heart, and want her to succeed as much as I would. I hope that on the days where your job seems mundane and repetitive, you remember that your job is literally life-changing for my child. You are the humans who have taught her how to play and learn to walk. You are the humans who are helping her talk, and to successfully and fearlessly navigate the world around her. You are the people who are teaching me the skills I need to be a better, more understanding parent.
Again, I know you know this. I know that you see the value in what it is you do, or you would not have chosen to work in these fields and with the children in them. But I just want to take a second to reinforce that again for you:
What you do matters.
Through various therapies, my child has learned how to play with toys, how to walk, how to jump, how to interact more comfortably with people, and even how to eat and drink. All of these things are things that should not take an abnormal amount of focused effort, but for my child, they have. All of these things have been mountains that my child needed to climb– thank you for giving her the tools she needed to scale them. Thank you for giving me the tools I needed to assist her.
I close with this: for as difficult as this journey has been and even on the days where I have hated your therapy strategies (and believe me, there have been many days where I have), I appreciate the work that you do and your willingness to do it. I pray and give thanks for you constantly. Keep up your good (and important) work.