For eleven years I worked as a Speech Pathologist in numerous settings. Most of my years in this profession were with the pediatric population. Some of these precious children were born with a birth defect or disease and some experienced a horrific accident causing a brain injury. Often times, I was immersed in the tragedy and difficult time in a family’s life. There were days that were incredibly sad and days where I was able to witness someone accomplish a major hurdle. This journey in the rehabilitation world taught me some incredible lessons that I had no idea would prepare me for motherhood.
So, to the mom of a child with a disability or disease who graciously shared their child with me, I have two, important things to say to you.
First, I AM SORRY.
I am sorry for expecting you to complete daily assignments. I had no idea what motherhood was like, especially with a child who requires so much of you. I am sorry for making you feel guilty for not practicing what I felt to be incredibly important, when you were trying to meet the needs of your child and have enough of yourself for the rest of your family. I am sorry I didn’t understand how you kept forgetting to follow up with the doctor or bring your child’s communication device. I am sorry I didn’t always respond with a level of empathy you deserved.
What you probably didn’t notice was when you were in the trenches of caring for your child, I was watching you. I watched as you changed your grown son’s diaper. I watched as you pushed the wheelchair up the steep ramp. I watched as you changed the feeding tube for your daughter. I watched as you tried so hard to understand what your child was trying to communicate. I watched as you apologized for the outburst your child experienced because the florescent lights sent him into sensory overload. I watched as you wiped the drool off your teenage son’s chin. I watched you pick up your child who was outgrowing you. I watched you mother your other children while you waited on your child to finish their therapy session. I watched as you weeded through all the bills for therapies, equipment and medicines.
As a mother, I now have an appreciation for you that I cannot express in adequate words. I only walked your journey with you for a short while and will never know everything you experienced or continue to experience. However, in that short time with you I can only muster up two, very simple words…
Thank you for teaching me how to persevere when the prognosis isn’t good. Thank you for teaching me patience when you aren’t seeing the gains you envisioned. Thank you for teaching me to appreciate the small things because those may actually be big things. Thank you for teaching me how to extend grace to others because none of us know their struggles. hank you for teaching me how to move forward even when you don’t know what the next step is. Thank you for teaching me humility when you would do whatever was required for your child’s well-being. Thank you for teaching me to be my child’s biggest advocate.
You didn’t even know it and I certainly didn’t, but you shaped me as a mother. You taught me how to love my children right where they are. You taught me how to treasure every developmental milestone achieved. You showed me how to minister to them when they feel left out. You gave me a heart for those in need, which has transferred to my children. You demonstrated an unbreakable love that I have been blessed to experience. You showed me how to celebrate accomplishments and encourage them when they didn’t succeed. You showed me how to speak to my children about disabilities and differences that is honoring to others. You taught me how to hope against all hope. You proved that teachers come in all forms, for it was your child who taught me.
Today, I thank you. My children thank you. This world thanks you. Day in and day out, you demonstrate a servant’s heart that any of us should feel honored to encounter. It was my great privilege to come along side your family and a blessing I will value for a lifetime.
Missey Calcutt is a follower of Jesus and wife to her best friend for 15 years. Together they have five amazing children ages 11, 8, 5, 3 and 2 months. Born and raised in Columbia, she earned a BA in Speech Language Pathology from Columbia College. She then attended USC where she earned a Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology. After working in a variety of settings for several years, she became a stay-at-home mom to her growing family. Now, she juggles hectic schedules, carpool lines and nonstop meal preparation. She loves spending time with her family, reading Christian books, getting back to her passion for writing and exercising with her Crossfit family.