She was a young mom with a take-charge personality. She was managing an appointment for her infant son and making a phone call to her insurance company. She was speaking into the phone in short, hurried sentences, juggling her wallet and diaper bag.
I was in the same office with my daughter for an appointment—and I was in a mood. I was a bit grumpy and wanted to keep to myself. I was maybe feeling sorry for myself for being in this clinic … yet again. I was not looking to talk to, or make eye contact, with anyone.
But I could hear this young mom struggling with her insurance company. She had already told the insurance representative what she needed. She said the words that the home health agency told her to use and asked the question she was told to ask.
It was clear that she wasn’t using the words that the insurance representative knew, but she knew no other words to rephrase her question. The truth was, she didn’t even really know what she was asking for.
I knew what she was trying to ask for. I knew the verbiage she could use that the insurance representative would know. I knew she needed a touch of my expertise as a mom who has walked that road. But I didn’t want to help. I had already decided I wasn’t going to look at anyone, much less talk to someone.
I fought the urge to help her. But she was stuck. She needed the insurance agent to help her. I couldn’t fight it any longer. I pushed through my sour mood. I went against my decision to keep to myself and I spoke up.
“Can I help you a minute?” I asked this young mom.
She immediately agreed. She saw me here with my daughter, her wheelchair, and her other medical equipment in tow. She knew I was a few years ahead of her but that I was in her same camp. She knew we were kindred.
I quickly let her know the verbiage to use when talking to the insurance company. I told her what it meant and what exactly she was asking for.
She was grateful. She proceeded to ask me a few more questions. She was interested in my daughter and in our story. She needed to know about our insurance and about our benefits. She loved talking about doctors and their care.
I was able to tell her she was doing a good job. I was able to encourage her in her role as mom and as advocate.
It was an easy thing. It was a quick investment in the life of a stranger…a familiar stranger. It was a good reminder to me to look up and to care about others.
We were two mamas on a similar journey. Our paths crossed for just a moment….
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.