“I get by with a little help from my friends.” -Lennon/McCartney
A few weeks ago Joel and I met a new pediatrician, and I was super nervous about it. The practice we visit has been great, but explaining Joel to someone who may or may not have looked closely at his chart is exhausting. And I felt horrible that it was a well check visit 8 months overdue. (I am my own worst critic…calling myself all of the names banned at our house: “Stupid! Why can’t you be more organized???”) Also, I only had this appointment because we were too late for a known doctor the previous week…so I was sure this new pediatrician visit would be awful. (Have I mentioned I’m a human roller coaster?)
But it wasn’t awful at all. First, the nice nurse didn’t ask any of the developmental questions that usually make me want to throw up. Then the doctor walked in and her face lit up when she saw Joel. And my little barometer of goodness in people Joel-man reached to embrace her automatically! We talked about his handsomeness, fabulous hair, and cute glasses. Then she asked about his school schedule, therapist village, and casually mentioned that her child attends the same intensive therapy program as Joel. That, in fact, she relocated her family so they could live near our children’s hospital. And then it was like we were old friends, exchanging tips and stories. When I said, “I don’t know how I messed up and missed his 4 year checkup.” She said, “Pfft! I know how you did! How many other specialists has he seen in that time?” I lost count thinking of all the appointments we’ve gone to since January…
Then she asked me what my secret is, how do I do it all? All the things associated with parenting both a “typical” and “special” child. My first response in my head was, “Oh so haphazardly! I mess up and there are not-so-great days where everything just seems hard. Just like everybody else. Plus, I’m kind of a slob.” The words that bubbled out of my mouth instead were, “We have really great friends.” And we do.
We live in a community where little preschoolers I don’t even know greet us at the soccer field and say, “Hi Joel! Watch this!” and tumble over each other just to make him giggle. If your kid’s picture is in the paper section for subscribers only and you want extra copies, three will be on your porch by the end of the day. Meals are delivered for new babies, surgeries, and bereavement. (We’ve had some from each category, of course.) Church friends even delivered meals to Children’s when Luke was inpatient post-op. Those may have been the most delicious foods I’ve ever tasted. At our homecoming parade, at least half a dozen older elementary/middle school football players stopped by to hand Joel candy directly instead of tossing it at the ground where he can’t reach. We watch each other’s children when one has an appointment or work. We just do life together.
I love that I frequently have multiple-aisle, intermittent conversation with other moms while at Kroger/Target. I love that Luke and I joined a playgroup when he was 9 months old and that those other kiddos and mamas are like family now. And I love that we have friends who stick around for the hard stuff, who know that grief sometimes calls for a giant box of wine, chocolate, coffee, and more of my favorite things. And our friends who have volunteered large chunks of their precious weekend time building a ramp for our house will always be saints, IMO. (Stay tuned….ramp completion sooooo close! John is a rock star, FYI.)
I grew up in a small town where families have known each other for decades, heck centuries really. My parents knew the family tree of nearly everyone in my class. Although we don’t go back *quite* so far with our current village, Cincinnati sometimes seems like one big town really. And our corner is pretty fabulous. Oh it’s not perfect. We have our characters, just like the Gilmore’s Stars Hollow. (I’m late to the GG party, and some might say I’m currently obsessed.) But it’s home.
As Joel and I rolled into his preschool classroom this morning, three children shouted, “JOEL!!!” Two ran over to us, and one hugged me while the other hugged him. I suddenly realized Joel is Norm, and his Cheers is preschool. So of course I started singing “Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” Luckily a teaching assistant joined in. Have I mentioned we love our school?
Thanks for joining us on this journey, friends!
P.S. – The newest life that we cannot stop gushing over belongs to my sweet great niece Jessa. She was born just a few days before my mom’s 79th birthday, and we are so in love with her already. My niece Nicki and her husband Tom are the proud parents, and my sister and BIL are simply over the moon about becoming grandparents. Life is good.