This is a tough week. This week we will be saying goodbye to three women who have had an enormous impact on our family. For over a year, once or twice a week we have welcomed them into our home, and more than that, we’ve let them see into the most stressful part of our family. All three are professionals, trained to work with kids and their disabilities, but it felt more like really helpful friends coming over to play with Nathan and talk with me about the one thing that consumes the most of my brain space – helping Nathan grow.

Actually, at first it didn’t feel like that at all. It was a difficult transition in the beginning. I do not readily welcome random people into our home. My home is a sacred space and I don’t like “unsafe” people coming into it. And at the time the first one started I was struggling with depression and was bruised from criticisms of how I was handling life as a mom, not to mention I was so scared and unsure of how to proceed to get Nathan the help he needed. Each of these women was a stranger when I first met her, assigned by a manager to work with our Nathan. I had to open the door and open up the most vulnerable part of my job – mothering a stroke survivor – to these people. I did not like it at first. We actually had a few therapists come and go in the past year – sometimes their schedules changed, and one we asked not to come back because she was bossy and rude. But three of them stuck it out for months. As I opened up to them, they were able to give me the one thing I needed so much this past year – hope.

For them, our situation is pretty normal. They work all day, every day, with kids with special needs. In fact, many of the kids they work with are far more disabled than Nathan is and not all are in families that will realistically be able to help them achieve a typical life. They helped me see how great things really are in our home.

They also encouraged me in my parenting. Making a two-year-old work week after week on difficult and uncomfortable skills is not easy. At all.  They got to see him at his worst and least charming and they were very affirming of how I’ve chosen to parent him through that.

They led us to resources we would never have known about. Regularly they brought new toys or therapy tools for Nathan to keep. They told us what types of orthotics and splints to buy and where to buy them. They helped us get into Scottish Rite.

And most of all, they talked to me. They talked and talked and talked. I knew I could save up my questions and then they would be coming in a few days or a couple weeks for me to ask. For an hour or two a week I had someone sitting in my living room who was as engaged in helping Nathan as I was. They didn’t mind discussing the finer points of his finger joint movement, or the ramifications of one leg being shorter, or the way he could say this sound, but not that sound. It is no slam against my friends and family to say that they cannot support me in this area as these women could. It was like having three counselor to talk things out with, I knew they were doing it because it was their job, but that didn’t matter as much as just having someone willing to sit and listen and talk, talk, talk.

Oh, and one final “little” thing – they have helped me help Nathan grow and develop extraordinarily this last year. When we began a little over a year ago, he couldn’t stand alone, couldn’t talk, and couldn’t use his right hand at all. Today he can almost run, he can say a few things and has a growing vocabulary of sounds and noises, and he regularly uses his right hand to help with daily tasks.

So we say goodbye with the most profound thanks in our hearts. They will probably never know how much they meant to this Mama, this little boy, this family. But I pray they will be blessed richly for the care they have taken and the love they have shown.