I recently told a friend that the African proverb, It takes a village to raise a child. was written expressly for me. While she chuckled and then helped me figure out where and when to bring my son, Chris, for his newest activity, I realized how important my village has become. Some interpret this quote as being responsible for everyone’s children, while others feel we cannot raise our children without the help of our village. I see it both ways, but utilize it almost daily as the latter – my village, my tribe…they help me get through whatever life throws my way.
My tribe consists of so many incredible groups of people. Let’s talk Boy Scouts. I am the worst scout mom who has ever dared to sign up her son. I have no idea where the patches go. I don’t even know the difference between patches and merit badges. I can’t seem to get the knack of the iron-on patch system either. And sewing?!? Forget it! Try as I might, I can’t seem to grasp it all. Yes, I do realize Boy Scouts is an opportunity for young men to grow in leadership and responsibility – but he’s twelve. I am so appreciative to all who help in Chris’ Boy Scout troop. There are so many awesome parents who plan and run the activities. I am not one of them, and I’m pretty sure, they’re just thankful that I can get Chris dropped off on time. People who are understanding that this is all I can give are my heroes.
Coaching is such a thankless job. Many aren’t paid at all, and those who are, are getting only a few dollars per hour when you take into account all of the many hours that go into their position. The emails, updating websites with practice times, answering parent questions about the already listed practice times, arriving early to prepare for the practices and games, and often staying later to wait for the last child to be picked up take these incredible people away from their families. As my children have chosen sports I had never seen played and know very little about, I’m not much help here either. These fabulous men and women work to support Katie and Chris in all they do. Just understanding field hockey and lacrosse rules makes them heroes!
Teachers! They’re another part of our tribe. Personally, I think many have a sign above their desk similar to the one on the left. They realize when one of my children wears the wrong color shirt on a school spirit day, it’s not to be difficult – I just didn’t finish the email that contained the details (or maybe I read it, but totally forgot TODAY was that day!) We reach out to their teachers when things come up with Mikey; letting them know the children may need a little TLC. They have compassion and understanding like no one you’ve ever met. I thank God every day for the fantastic teachers placed in the path of my children.
The numerous medical professionals hold another important spot in our tribe. The nurses who work with Michael give us the gentle reminders that a medication will soon need a refill (why oh why can’t they all be refilled on the same day?), they show up every day to support Michael. They communicate with us as well as their peers on Michael’s case. Nothing is forgotten, they take care of him as they would their own child. Having a nonverbal child, this is so reassuring to us. Michael has never had anything but positive experiences at AI DuPont Hospital for Children. We are so fortunate to have three fantastic Children’s Hospitals in our area. The strength of these great hospitals summons the best and the brightest. We’ve been blessed with fabulous physicians, nurses, aides and other staff members who realize our plight and help us in any way possible, including house calls when we had concerns that occurred after hours. Follow up phone calls to ensure Michael was progressing and even the hospitalist who took on Katie. She was struggling with Michael’s long hospital stay a few years ago, and kept asking us when Mikey could come home. After many “I don’t know” from Chuck and me, her ten-year old feistiness came out and said, “I want to talk to this doctor who is keeping Mikey there.” When we recounted this to him, without hesitation, he asked for the best number to call and called her right from the hospital room. He entertained her questions, listened to her worries and with great confidence, told her Mikey would stay under his care until he figured out what was causing his distress. Just one of many examples of the medical professionals our tribe is filled with.
Family and friends who have become family round out our tribe. They do what they think are little things that remind us how loved and supported we are. Having a child with special needs can be lonely. Many people don’t understand what our life is like and what is entailed for us to get out the door. They reach out. When we don’t respond, they show up. They don’t always understand the decisions we make, but they respect them. Through their actions and time, they let us know they have our back, they hold us up in prayer, they respond to our text messages when they know we are struggling or need to vent, they make time when we want to grab a drink and have a shoulder when we need to cry.
Yes, it does take a village and I’m beyond blessed to have such a fabulous tribe caring for and supporting our family.