We’re nearing the end of an era for Rowenna. In 3 short weeks, my sweet girl will be three and she will finish with the Birth to 3 program. It’s a hard stop – on her third birthday, everything just ends. No transition, no easing into the next step. Rowenna’s situation is a bit different in that we’re going straight into summer so while kids born during the school year would have therapy one day then public school the next, we get a three month cushion in between.
People have expressed concern that she will go “three whole months” without therapy, but we’re not worried, and neither are her therapists. Summer is the best time for natural therapy. She will have plenty of opportunities to run and climb (PT!), dig, draw, and fill (OT!), and chatter up a storm with everyone we meet on our summer adventures (ST!).
We’ll never know if the therapies themselves have made (or will make) a difference for Rowenna. And even after three years I’m left with some lingering doubts about the message it sends to families to have professionals “intervene” from birth.
But what I do know is these three women are family and we will miss them very much, and that there’s something to be said for a team supporting a family in these early years, cheering them on and empowering them.
They have been with us through surgery, hospitalizations, and endless random viruses. They have sent supportive texts and made concerned phone calls when Rowenna would throw us for a particularly wild loop and we all worried together about what would be. They have been with us throughout all my forays into advocacy and through all my chattering stream-of-consciousness monologues in which I wonder and dream aloud about my girl. They have supported us in every choice, every step along the way, never questioning and always providing gentle guidance and support.
And I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that they care about my girl.
I was out of town at a meeting today so my dad was holding down the fort. He took some pictures for me since he knew we were nearing the end of our time with our team. I kind of laughed it off – my dad is a lot more sentimental than I am – but when I sat down to flip through the pictures, I was surprised to find tears spring to my eyes.
I’ve spent hours upon hours with these women and have always been glad to see them. But it took seeing them through the lens of a camera, in pictures taken by someone else, to see – to realize how they see my daughter.
I think they like her. And I know Rowenna likes them. She runs to the door when the bell rings and I tell her Miss D is here. She excitedly peeks into their big bags full of fun things to explore. She is all smiles, all curiosity. Admittedly, there are PT sessions when she seems hell-bent on showing just how good she is at sitting on the ground and not moving – but on the whole, it’s always been a positive experience for Rowenna.
So as we finish our time together, I am grateful. I am glad to have had a team who saw only Rowenna and not her deficits. Went along on my crazy ride of no developmental assessments or homework assignments or arbitrary tasks. Made everything about how Rowenna can be a bigger part of our lives, our home, and our community. Smiled, laughed, danced, and made silly faces to make every single session something for Rowenna to look forward to. Listened to my worries about her health. Cheered us on as we placed her in preschool. Engaged her with ever more clever activities and learned to read her little nuances.
And always, always celebrated my sweet girl.
For all of that and more, I am grateful.