Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sticks and Stones

Remember that childhood idiom "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?" Well the older I become the more I realize that it's wrong. Sometimes words, especially thoughtless or careless words, hurt worse than the broken bones.

Tuesday Gabriel had his weekly physical therapy appointment. Gabe has one-on-one physical therapy with Ms. KC but there are also other children around him. Amazingly there are 3 little girls right around Gabe's age that have therapy at the same time. They're all developing differently and I've loved watching these 4 little ones (especially Gabe, of course) learn, grown and develop. One little girl (K) graduated from therapy this week; which is fantastic. We are so happy for her; that K developed and strengthened her weaknesses and is now doing well.

But this isn't about graduating therapy, or really therapy at all. It's about words.

Before going back to therapy K's mom was celebrating her daughters success (rightfully I may add) and talking about her relief that they were done with therapy. K's mom then made a few thoughtless comments; comments I'm sure she didn't mean to sound so callous but did. And her lack of sensitivity to a child would obviously not be graduating from therapy any time soon, left me angry. Unbeknown st to her, I think of therapy as a complete Godsend. K's mom was relieved she wouldn't have to hide that her daughter went to therapy. Hide it? We're so grateful to our wonderful therapists that we probably flaunt the fact Gabe goes to CCCR-west and how fabulous it is.

It bothered me horribly that she would find therapy something to be embarrassed about; that a developmental delay or a medical condition would be something to be ashamed about. I hate the fact that people think that; that Gabe may one day hear from someone that he should be embarrassed that he goes to physical and occupational therapy. I want him to be proud of how hard he works, how far he's come.

As I processed what was said I remembered other casual remarks that I've heard. And while I know most people don't mean to be hurtful, I think we need to be much more aware of what we say and who's saying it.

When you complain that your child is crawling before "you're" ready, remember that Gabe works uncommonly hard to try and crawl.

And when you tell me that my life is going to change, once Gabe can pull up and walk then smirk when I respond with an "I can't wait" know that I really can't wait. Because walking is not going to be an easy feat for Gabe and when he does take those independent steps we will be rejoicing in the moment.

Through our struggles to have a child; I've learned to never ask or barrage friends when they were going to start a family because you never know what they're going through.

I guess my point to this whole thing (besides being able to process and let go of it) is to watch you words. Be thoughtful in what you say. Because the lady I used to work with who constantly asked if I was pregnant caused me much more pain than the girl that punched me on the basketball court in 7th grade.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.
- Ronald Reagan


Mari Bryant- Marks said...

Oh my goodness. I love that quote. And I love this post. I am so excited that Gabe and you have a great place to go and do therapy. That there are people who care enough to choose physical therapy as an occupation. Thank you for the reminder to watch our words and be thoughtful.

Christy said...

Hey Meredith,
I'm so sorry that you have to endure such hurt. I hope and pray that we have never said or done anything to make you feel that way. Gabe is a great kid and I'm so excited for Micah to get to know him better :-)

Abe and Joni said...

I'm so sorry people have hurt you with their words. People really don't think before they speak.

But you should know that you cheering on your baby to grow and develop is so much more wonderful than a part who wants their baby to stay a baby so they don't have to work harder. I see that all the time, even mama's who actually try and strap their children into strollers and car seats to purposely delay their walking so they won't have to chase them. They have no idea how ungrateful they are being when they do that.

You are an awesome mama and you should be proud of Gabe and of therapy and everything else his does! And when he walks you need to video it so we can all cheer with you!

Becky said...

Meredith, I can identify with this post so strongly! I remember when CeCe was in therapy, many people making "the face" when we discussed it, as if it were something to be hidden or ashamed of. So NOT the case! Therapy was a miracle for her, as I know it has been and will continue to be for Gabe. We are still incredibly grateful for her therapists, three years later, as we watch her run on feet that we were not sure would even allow her to walk. And I also recall so many people providing unsolicited advice on how to become pregnant. I like to think that those experiences have helped me to become a more sensitive human being, although there's still a long way to go!!!

Hugs to all of you! You and Matt are amazing parents.