In the waiting room, at pediatric therapy, I am known as Faith's mom. Just as others are known as Ashley's grandma, Luke's grandma, Chloe's mom, Abby's caretaker. At first, we were just a familiar face to one another. But as our children and grandchildren came for therapy more and more, we began to talk. We compared stories. We asked each other questions. Our waiting time has now become social hour. We have become our own little community - supporting one another, offering prayers and talking to those who know exactly what we go through.
It's not just the parents, grandparents and caretakers who share a special connection with one another. It's also the three receptionists who sit behind the desks. Some children, like Faith, have been going to therapy for years. They know our backgrounds, they know when we aren't feeling well and most of all they know and understand our children. They laugh at the children's stories and they cry too when one of the young patients is in the backroom getting Botox injections.
We can tell when there is a visitor amongst us. First-time families whose children need physical, occupational or speech therapy. They tend to look a little longer at a child in a wheelchair, puzzle over what is going on during an enteral feeding, wonder why some children make silly sounding noises in order to communicate. The rest of us look and smile, trying to make them feel welcome. We understand their worries, their fears, their anxiousness.
For some of those in our little community, mere socialization turns into friendship. We call one another, send each other Christmas cards, give new babies in the family gifts and set up play dates for the kids. We are our own little community and it helps us get through the life of having a special needs child a little easier and a little less overwhelming.