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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting Rooms

Here I sit, in my favorite waiting room, waiting for Ella to finish her therapies. Before this I was waiting in the dance studio waiting room. And tomorrow will be Gymnastics Waiting Room Day. I've realized that I probably spend as much of my life waiting in waiting rooms as I do sleeping. It's an interesting little ecosystem, a waiting room. There are moms and dads and grandparents from every walk of life. People who ordinarily would never spend time together somehow bond because they realize they do have things in common with the other families in the same waiting room. 

Because I go to the same places with the kids every week, I know the other families that are in the waiting rooms with me. You become a sort of family. You talk about how a friend's new haircut looks great on her. Or toss around ideas on how to get your toddler to sleep through the night. Or offer support when a new diagnosis enters your kid's life. Or joyfully waive to your children together as they pass the viewing window in gymnastics. Or pick a friend's brain about their gluten-free diet. 

Honestly, waiting rooms are where I find my support groups. These parents are my friends, my family, my peeps, who know what I'm going through because they're going through similar things. I know it's a little crazy, but on therapy days especially, I make sure I shower and put on decent clothes, and even makeup (!) because I know not only will I see our therapists and get insight into my kids but I will also see my friends. I look forward to our therapy days because it's a chance to connect with people who know what our family is going through. It's a chance to network and support each other, get ideas and give advice. It's a place where you know you're not alone.

We do most of our kids' therapies on Wednesdays. Ella and I go in the morning for two of her therapies, then we go home and bring all the boys back in the afternoon and they all four have multiple therapies. Ben gets an additional therapy on Tuesdays after school, and Aidan comes back Friday afternoons for one more therapy. 

Wednesday afternoons, The Therapy Tree is hopping. The waiting room is full of bustle, kids all waiting to see their therapists. Sometimes the cacophony of noise is overwhelming, especially for my boys. But they've learned to deal with it. They usually bring an electronic device and tune into a game in order to tune out the world. 

As the waiting room fills with families, we greet friends. Parents we see once a week. We catch up and hear about how   the kids have been doing the past week. I wait with anticipation to see these friends. Some weeks these other moms are my lifeline. Some weeks seeing these friends is what keeps me going when things look so bleak and I'm so tired of challenges. 

There's no way to tell these other parents, in all the waiting rooms that I sit in every week, how much they mean to me. But the little things they do- read a book to Ella, let the boys watch them play a game on their DS, share a coloring book or a snack, those little things mean the world to me. It means so much when these parents listen to me and I know they're not judging me. We have a secret understanding about life. We know that just in order to get to this waiting room, some days we have to move mountains. Some days our kids have meltdowns on the way here and you have to pull the car over 832 times. Sometimes one of the kids won't wear socks or shoes even though it's winter, and you have to figure out how to get the kids to the waiting room and still not freeze to death. Sometimes it's the hardest thing in the world to just get your kids into the car and deliver them to the waiting room. 

We also have an understanding about our kids' behavior in these waiting rooms. Especially at therapy, we know that when a kid is having a complete meltdown about getting his coat on, we've all been there. The child may have sensory issues that are ignited with the thought of a coat. They may have trouble with transitions. They may not want to feel the cold winter air on their bare cheeks. We all understand and send silent support the way of the parent. No one glares or snickers. We all get it.

The thing that binds us all together, all these waiting room parents, is the fact that we're all in these waiting rooms trying to do the best we can for our kids. Whether our kids are busy getting therapy, balancing on a beam in gymnastics,  learning the steps to a new ballet, we're all in the waiting rooms trying to give our kids the best possible life they can have. That, more than anything, is what unites us. The desire to give our kids the world.

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