They finally got some toys for the table in the middle of the waiting room.
It’s about time.
We’re here every Monday before my two-year-old Asher’s physical therapy appointment. Some plastic farm animals and a little fence and barn have magically lightened the atmosphere in the room. Asher used to roam from seat to seat, and now he's standing at the table playing with a plastic cow. One little girl is playing with him, but her mom doesn't really make eye contact with me. This is the first week I've seen them. I sit in the same chair every time, right next to the side down where the therapist comes to get us.
There's a mom across the room that I've seen every time. It’s been weeks that we’ve both been here, sometimes just the two of us waiting across the long room from each other, and I am now sure that her son is getting speech therapy. She speaks Spanish on the phone, so I wonder if she's fluent in English, as I've only seen her nod when the therapist talks to her. I wonder if this whole thing is extra work for both her and her son. I think she's heroic, sitting over there in her tennis shoes, browsing her phone, waiting on her little boy to walk out of back rooms. He's maybe four years old.
I've only left Asher's room twice, and I hated leaving both times. I'm not sure if the therapist really loves having me in there, but he's only two, for heaven's sake. And he's falling behind, and I can't help but want to be there to watch as she teaches him to catch up. I have to monitor how often I cut in, but I try really hard to refrain because I want her to want me to stay. I don't want to be the mom in the waiting room, not yet, not if I don't have to be. (Worth noting: I think the moms in the waiting room are noble and brave, and if it were my almost-four-year-old instead of my baby, I would probably need to stay out there, too.)
This week, as I watch Asher play with the little girl, as I watch more mothers walk in with their children, sit down, and not really talk to anyone, I want to hug them all. I want to look straight at the mother whose little boy is working on his words, and I want to celebrate her with flowers and a mocha and a gold medal.
I haven’t been in this therapy world for very long, but it's cracked open my mother-heart in a completely new way, and I'm sure it's the same for her. I'm incredibly proud of all Asher is doing, and of the progress he is making. I'm thankful for the physical therapist who is so kind that she says, "Red light!" instead of "Stop!" (I want to pass her a note that we totally say stop at home and that it'd be fine here, too.) I'm nervous for him, because he's not running yet, not like he should be, not like he wants to. I'm frankly a little nervous that they'll tell me I have to go back to that awful Orthopedic Surgeon that made me cry in his office. I left with sunglasses on and mascara running down my chin.
It's unexpected, this sense of community I feel with waiting-room moms beside me. We smile and nod and sometimes don’t make eye contact when the therapists come out. Somehow, it feels a little like we’re in this together. I bet they feel proud and scared at the same time, too. They don't say it, but I see the way they look at the kids who seem way too little to need this much help. They're here every week in the middle of a Monday during nap-time, and that says something, too.
Asher's improving every week; they think he'll catch up in no time. I almost don't feel worthy to be here, because I know other kids and other parents have to walk a much longer road than we'll have to.
I'm just proud to sit beside them for a little bit, celebrating small victories like first steps taken and sentences strung together and new plastic horses sitting on the table between us.
Written by Sarah Ann. Sarah Ann is a writer, a podcaster, and a lover of good words telling good stories. Her heartbeat is to encourage women to live ethical, intentional, connected lives by owning their stories and diving into the heart of Jesus. She writes at sarahannonline.com, and can be found on Instagram.