To All The Therapists: There are not enough valentines in the world to thank you for guiding, enabling and encouraging my child—and for showing me how to enable him. I heart you with all my heart.
To the secretaries and assistants at the specialists offices: This valentine is for finding a way to squeeze my child in despite the fact that we were told there were no openings for, like, 50 years.
To the parents whose children speak with my son like they are talking with any peer and who do not act demeaningly or talk in a baby-ish way: a valentine to you for raising your children right. They will be better people because they understand that there is a glorious range of abilities, and that's what makes the world a good place.
To my friends, who are always there to listen to me vent about the challenges of raising a child with disabilities and offer me perspective. You make me a more sane mom. ❤️ you!
To the teachers at Max's school, including the ones who stay late to run programs: a valentine to you for all that you do. There is a reason he is excited to go to school every single day.
To the people who run Friendship Circle and other programs Max loves: our hearts are full of gratitude for you.
To the people who have refused to include my son in activities and programs: this is a valentine for you because you need a heart.
To my mom and sister: You have been Max's cheerleaders literally since day one. I went through the hardest time of my life after he was born, and you were there to make me focus on how cute he was, feel less anxious about his future and do laundry. Your valentine is for having the most loving hearts. BTW, you are still welcome to do laundry.
To the firefighters at our local station who always happily greet Max when he visits, call him Fireman Max, let him check out his favorite truck (#31) and treat him like a friend: you're the best, and this valentine's for you.
To all the babysitters: I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE YOU AND ARE YOU FREE SATURDAY NIGHT?
To the people I've connected with on this blog and Facebook who've commiserated, comforted and offered tips on everything from the best socks for orthotics to dealing with school bus situations: here's a Valentine to the nicest, most supportive people I have never met.
To anyone who gives me iced-coffee: Thank you from the bottom of my sleep-deprived heart for keeping me on life support.
To the staffer at the orthopedist's office who went there at 4:45 a.m. on a cold December morning to accept a very delayed delivery from FedEx of Max's orthotics because we were leaving on vacation and needed them: this valentine's for you because you are supremely awesome.
To the people who offer my son donuts and other free stuff because they feel sorry for him: this valentine's for you because although your heart is in the right place, your mindset is not. Please do not pity my child. He is happy with who he is. I love him for who he is.
To the staffers at the camps Max attends every summer who make him gleefully happy: A great big valentine to you, sandwiched between a s'more.
To the school district coordinator who has guided me through IEPs and made sure my son is getting what he needs and deserves at school: I adore you for all the heart and soul you put into your job. Happy Valentine's Day!
To the guys at the car wash who let us run our car through three times in a row when our son was obsessed with car washes and only charged us for one: here's a valentine. Every time we drive by, we have feels.
To Dr. Doom and Dr. Gloom in the NICU: When you told me and my husband the worst about our child when he was born, it took a long time for us to find hope in our hearts. This valentine is for you because I forgive you. Also: YOU SHOULD SEE HIM NOW.
To my husband: You are my best friend and Max's too. Who else is going to roam around with him at Home Depot on Sunday nights? Take him on a joy trip to California just because? Make sure he gets regular fixes of eel sushi? Y-o-u. Women often say that they fell in love with their partners even more once they saw them as parents. I know that feeling: I can still picture you standing in the delivery room holding Max and staring wondrously at him and how blissed out that made me. I can also picture just how devastated you looked when we found out what happened to him—and how you have been there for him every single step of the way. My love for you continues to grow because you are the most supportive, caring, empathetic, loving dad. And also because you bring me iced coffee.