By Natalie Roberts-Mazzeo
To my beautiful friends near and far, THANK YOU!
I know I’ve been M.I.A many times ever since my daughter was diagnosed. In the beginning I went undercover trying to cope with the seismic shift that just occurred within our family life. You were amazing though, your phone calls, messages and visits meant the world to me. I know it must have been hard to know what to say, but just holding the space for me to cry and share was more than enough.
After the initial shock, I was suddenly catapulted into early intervention and a host of other services I knew nothing about. It felt like like I had been put in a washing machine with a cycle that never ended, the links to services from the hospital, to community and beyond felt incredibly confusing and further isolating from the world I once knew. Every new link to a new service, meant that I had to share the painful details of my child’s diagnosis, over and over again. Spelling out these long medical conditions felt so surreal and these small things seemed to take up so much of my time, not to mention my energy.
Soon, my calendar was full of hospital appointments and therapies and my mind seemed to follow suit. The constant packing and preparing for a new appointment, the long hours in waiting rooms and returning home late often left me bewildered and tired.
The car travel was always so challenging which added a further barrier in my ability to just zip over and visit you.
You were always so understanding never putting any pressure on me, instead creating a fluid space to which you would always be there, thank you. I know it must have been hard to know how to help, but the truth is I had no idea what I needed other than the wish for my child to be well.
This trajectory of hospitals, therapies and a quest to help my child reach her full potential took hold of my heart. I began to connect with other families who had children with additional or medical needs. They too, were speaking this new foreign medical lingo which felt comforting and scary all in one.
You continued to connect and invite me to catch ups and I was always so grateful. I know some times I would come along very tired and maybe a little more quieter than usual, you see my mind was full to the brim of a whole new special needs world and I found it hard to remember what life was like beforehand. Yet, you were always there and so present no matter where my mind was spinning off to.
To the friends who collected my eldest daughter from school whilst I was running late from a hospital visit.
To the friends who took my eldest daughter to her weekly gym class, so she wouldn’t miss out.
To the friends who continued to invite my eldest daughter over for playdates and being so understanding when we couldn’t always return the gesture.
To the friends who were creating families of your own, I longed to be that ‘aunty-like’ friend who would walk through your door and cuddle your newborn and make you home made soup. But my world was still so heavily taken up by hospital appointments, ongoing tests and operations that continued to take so much of my time. Yet you were always so understanding, the love and space you continued to hold was more than you will ever know.
To the friends who continued to create successful businesses, I was constantly in awe at how you managed everything in your stride. I wanted to share in celebrating so much more of your wins and achievements, but I would be cheering you on from a waiting room or therapy appointment. Yet you never put any pressure on me, always meeting me with the same unconditional love and open arms.
To the friends who got married it was so special to be able to join the festivities, party together and feel so free.
To the friends who just checked-in from time to time, your love and support never went unnoticed.
To the friends who continued to invite us to events, despite the amount of times we would either have to cancel or say no, due to hospitals, appointments or just being too exhausted to leave the house.
To the friends who still celebrated their children’s milestones with me, thank you I never ever wanted my child’s conditions to limit the natural joy and celebrations of first words, first steps and any other achievements.
To the friends who held the space for me to cry after yet another confronting special needs equipment trial, whether it was a standing frame, toilet seat, wheelchair or walker. Thank you for helping me to see the bright side and focus on the positives, through laughter, wine and good spirit.
To the friends who would spend hours on the phone with me, discussing life, loss, the universe, angels, signs and the deeper aspects to the human condition, thank you for your wisdom. Your friendship means the world to me exactly how it is, whether it be an old school friend, friends I’ve met from work, travelling or living together.
Thank you for your unconditional love and friendship, it’s helped me to show up braver, stronger and more accepting of my motherhood journey.
Thank you for being my village.