A Letter to My Child's Therapist
I appreciate your lovely and kind nature, yet our relationship feels emotionally grueling and exhausting. I suspect that you feel the same as me, though I can only speak for myself as momma and for my son, as patient. I feel your occasional frustration and hear the undercurrent of annoyance in your words; I don't blame you, we are alike in that we work tirelessly for progress, yet after the hour, he goes home with me. You bring skills and thoughts and expectations to the isolated table where I sit, simultaneously willing and unwilling, awaiting the next course that some days feels like anchovies and other days, is delectable Peaches Foster. Due to the inconsistent nature of these therapy sessions, through no fault of your own, I am left unsure and nervous, a parent that is not admittedly warm, easy or flexible. I want to be, but it is so hard and I want you to understand my feelings of helplessness.
Our historical commitment to therapy has been nothing short of superb, nearly two years in the making for over a half dozen weekly appointments of speech, physical, and occupational therapy visits. Some of you come to our house with your bag of tricks, the nursery at Thursday's Bible Study and our nanny share arrangement. We also find others of you at the local hospital's pediatric therapy center. We have flat logged some time, money and energy in the business of therapy and we are diligent in our commitment, but it is truthfully so tiring. When I see my son greet you at our door with a wide smile or rush down the long hall to greet you, my heart leaps and I think to myself. This.
It's not just the complicated scheduling that makes me occasionally grumpy, but also the ability to juggle the multiple daily sessions, for me and Amos. Many mornings I rouse Amos from his cozy crib, strap him in the car seat, and haul him into therapy, sleepy, in his pajamas, eating a piece of toast and weary of puzzles and Mr. Potato Head. He gets tired and worn out and sometimes feels the love more than other times. While he adores you most days, sometimes he is barely tolerant. Sheepishly, I have a tendency to be the same way.
To me, the scripted therapy sessions are an emotional dance between the three of us. It may seem for you to imagine how these sessions could be emotionally draining for parents, but they take their tole in ways I never could have imagined. To usher your child in for reworking feels like a daily rite of passage that conjures up images in my feeble mind of the primal offering of a sacrifice. Sitting in that waiting room is sometimes profoundly sad and hard and brings out the fierce in the mama bear that can shock even myself. I await your return, overly sensitive, beyond reasonable measure and am quick to defend, explain, and pounce when your words or queries travel to my ear and immediately seem faulty.
It is me, I know usually, but not always. You get tired too and I'm sure it is frustrating to work hard with an often disagreeable non verbal toddler day after day, week after week, month after month, and now year after year. I feel like you dance with us but seem unaware of the secret behind the mother volcano you encounter each day and I can't blame you. I haven't done a good job in explaining the intricacies of my heart and you deserve my best transparency though perhaps you are tired of me and my talking and just want to do your job. As an early interventionist, I had no idea what was whirring in the minds of parents; terrible tornadic activity is the closest way I can describe my welling of emotions and the simultaneous suppression of anger, tears, helplessness. Even in moments of joy, therapy is a hardship.
I depend on you more than I should and though I crave your friendship, some of you are more willing than others to offer it wholeheartedly. I'm sure there are some rules somewhere regarding relationships that you feel the need to abide by, but maybe not. Again, I don't blame you, I'm not sure if I'd want me as a friend either. I am quick to judge, some days perky and others days weepy, a friend that only takes and never gives. I may avoid me too.
Some of you have given yourselves whole for the taking though and your cell number in my contact list is a light in the dark. Did you know that? I am more than a petulant child, I am just a parent that wants the very best for her child and I struggle mightily with balancing fixing my precious son and accepting his limitations as perfect. Thank you for sacrificing the rules and your self and your own history of hurt to help me and for seeing my Amos perfect just as he is and still wanting him to be the best version of himself. You know who you are and I thank you.