If you parent a different-brained child or have a different-brain yourself, you’ve no doubt received help along the way. And thank goodness, for truly, we’re all in this together!
Below, you’ll find a list of all the people who have helped me along the way. Here they are in no particular order, except for the fact I thought about who the very first people were to help Michael . . and those were the nurses who helped me birth him into the world . . . so let’s have the nurses get this party started!
Thank you, nurses! These are the fine ladies and gentleman who birth our children into the world–these children who do not yet have diagnoses. Our most helpful nurses remain calm while giving shots to screaming children, possibly those children who haven’t been labeled “on the spectrum” yet. Nurses are the ones who continue with us year after year (if they last that long) and push us through the screaming to get a procedure done. Kind, loving nurses are those that give us sympathetic glances that say, “I’ll be with you until the end, regardless of who might die in the process. I’ll be here for you.”
I LOVE these helpers. For real, I love them so much my heart may explode and send glittery love splats to the moon and back again. Occupational therapists really seem to have a labor of love for the people they serve. We’ve been in and out their doors so many times, whether it be for a single evaluation or for months on end every single week. They’re there to help and do what they can. Check out this answer when I asked a few of them to answer the question: How do you think Michael has affected Mica?
One lovely OT replied, “I see a lot of parents go through things I could never imagine. My heart broke for Mica each week because I could see the toll that the whole situation was taking on her, even though she kept a strong face. It was because of Mica’s amazing spirit that I wanted so badly to be someone who could ease some of the stress in her life. I became frustrated with myself when I didn’t have all of the solutions. I think Michael is extremely lucky to have Mica as a mother because her will and strength are what will allow him to continue to grow into an amazing, well-rounded person.”
Awww, insert a single tear rolling down my right cheek.
Oh, our dear friends who let us scream when we can’t take it, even though they have no freaking clue why we’re so upset. Those friends who validate us and say things like, “Wow, you are an amazing woman–not many people could even come close to how well you’re doing it.” Or those friends who actually bring chocolate and flowers when they arrive at your house . . . and then they quickly set up to making coffee because they know you’ve probably wanted a cup for the past two hours, but just haven’t yet taken the time to make it. Those friends who have children like your child . . . oh, those are the very most precious friends of all . . . because they really, really know.
Some of our closest relatives become our biggest allies and helpers and, oh, I am shouting huge Thank Yous from the mountain tops for my family who is supportive and kind.
Thank you for working with us as we try to perfect the cocktail of drugs that we absolutely do NOT want to put into our kids bodies. Our current meds doctor I would like to buy gift cards for because he has literally changed our lives for the better. My life would still be very sucky if it weren’t for him and his teaching Michael about brain chemistry, biological systems, genetic testing, chemical reactions, and all the other stuff I’m happy to miss out on while I draw fish in the waiting room. I have my limits, people.
Talk Therapists (or whatever they are called in so many forms)
Oh, you are the most important people in my life on this journey. This might not be true of everyone reading this. Some of you might have the most positive change with the OTs. But Michael is crazy smart and loves to talk, so his very best personal work is when he understands something (a concept, an interaction, a bodily process, etc.) to the core. He’s one of those very unique kids on the spectrum who can change his mind with enough information. Therapists are the change-makers in my life and I appreciate the ones who do great and meaningful work in this world.
Thank you, librarians! This special thank you goes out to the librarian who ask your child every single time they walk through the door, “Oh, hello Michael, what animal are you today?” Thank you for smiling huge and listening to Michael tell you what animal he is and every known fact about said animal each and every trip we make to the library when you are working. Because one of my main jobs with such a brainy kid was/is to continually feed him new and healthy books.
Teachers/Heads of Schools
You can see a letter I wrote here which gives a huge thank you to teachers and heads of schools who make our lives better. Thank you to the teachers who take the time to get to know our children. Thanks to those who bring my son’s favorite character toys to class when he does something great. Thank you for listening, not just to him but to me as well. Thank you for sharing special work for him so he can thrive like the other students. Thank you for including my child in every event and helping him prepare when there is something different coming. Thank you for hanging out with my child all day so I can take a deep breath. Thank you for so, so much.
Neighbors (Well, sometimes anyway):
It seems my brain can go to the worst case scenario as we explore our helpers, but seriously, who can ever forget this hate-filled letter from a neighbor to a mother? I’ll never forget it, nor do I want to. It happens–I’ve been on the receiving end, and I will work my entire life through to make sure that we continue to do our very best for humanity.
On the flip side, we had a neighbor who we saw every single day for years and years . . . and then several years after that, we’d visit each other. Oh, I miss her terribly now, but I could always leave her with Michael and away they’d go on adventures. She’d play games with him, feed him, take walks with him, console me, and just always be a solid person who we could trust and depend on and care for and be cared for.
We just moved to a new home and we’ve already got a family who we love and loves us right back. Our neighbors are so important, I hope you have wonderful relationships with your neighbors. <3
And then there are more community members like:
Hair Stylists Thank you to those who always knew to talk to Mason longer than usual and comb his hair for a heck of a lot longer and than needed because Michael needed to be done first. I see you and thank you and tip you big!
Judo Coaches Thank you to our martial arts instructors who accept our children into their classes with the expectations (and love) of every other student . . . and get the best from our children even when we have full doubt it won’t work. I see you and thank you for the amazing lessons my son took from your teachings.
Arts District Shop Owners Thank you shop owners who live in our community! This thank you is for you who have wide eyes of love for my children and claim how smart, respectful, and engaged they are. Thank you for the hugs and huge smiles when we walk in and for taking the time to stop and listen to them, they feel heard and loved.
Baristas Thank you to the barista who allowed Michael to create his own flavor and then advertise it to other customers. If you want to try it, it’s called “Cinnamon Swirl.” It’s steamed milk with ½ cinnamon and ½ vanilla flavoring. Yes, they probably already have this, but Michael came up with this when he was four years old.
And to those of you who condemn my child, judge me, lose your patience with, or even use words to hurt us, well, you can go and love yourself.
Who do you want to thank? Let’s celebrate them on Facebook!
You are loved, remember that now.