We tried to do play dates when Callie was a baby.
She was about 22 months old and had healed to the point where I felt comfortable taking her out of the house on my own. I wanted to be around other mamas and to have her be around other kids. We both needed some companionship after months of relatively isolated recovery at home.
It was so much harder than I thought it would be.
When the other moms would share about a common ear infection, getting woken up in the middle of the night or a cranky baby, I would commiserate but on the inside I have to admit…..I eye rolled SO hard.
I wanted to point to the huge scar that divided Callie’s chest or I don’t know……..her missing foot??
I had to resist the urge to tell them to suck it up.
It took all of my self control not to share that I still had nightmares of the sound of my little girl screaming after her amputation or the fact that we would still get up every hour to check her breathing. That by that point in our life, Callie had endured one open heart surgery, one amputation, and a second heart surgery. That I would have taken an ear infection, colic, or a little bit of vomit ANY day of the week if I could.
When they shared a milestone I would cheer happily with them but inside my heart would be breaking because I knew Callie would take months to hit that.
It was another way I would think “Callie and I just don’t fit here either.”
Each time a new mom would share something about their child that would never be true for my own, that feeling of isolation and loneliness would increase.
When they gasped and settled into a shocked silence when Callie took of her leg in front of the other kids, my heart sank. Our sweet little girl had grown uncomfortable tumbling around all of the giant foam mats in the kids gym and wanted to free herself of the burdensome prosthetic. It was easier for her to crawl sometimes without it so the move wasn’t unusual.
We didn’t go back to that group.
Looking back, I know I definitely needed to take that first step into the mom group but more importantly, it was also obvious they needed to be around people like Callie in their life.
Say what you may about social media, but it’s a powerful tool to connect people across the world. We’ve since made friends that share similar experiences–they know the messy and the magic of our world. They simply get it and we share a common language. There’s no need to justify why I feel a certain way or to explain why my reaction is what it is. There’s no uncomfortable silence when Callie takes off her leg instead there’s a quick offer of assistance. There’s empathy, grace, compassion, and teamwork. There’s a helping hand, a quick text message, and a cookie delivery sent to the hospital the night before a surgery.
I understand them and at the same time I’m understood. There’s something so powerful in shared experiences and in finding your community.
It’s a relief.
It’s like coming home.
It’s like we fit there.