Alysia K. Butler
One night two months ago I spent some time in the company of some amazing women. All mothers, all with school age kids under the age of ten, all of whom “get it.”
Earlier this year, a friend and I had the idea to start a small support group, to gather mothers or fathers of kids on the spectrum. With the help of our school district, we reached out to parents to see if anyone wanted to meet, just to talk.
Our first meeting was so nice that we decided to meet again. And that night two monhts ago, our group expanded. Friends brought friends who had kids on IEPs. Friends brought friends who had kids with diagnoses but couldn’t get IEPs. And as the sangria and wine and spinach dip flowed, we sat and just talked. Some of us were meeting for the first time. Without having to say it, we all knew we were in a safe place to share our feelings, vent our frustrations, and tell our stories. When one person talked, the whole room nodded along. Because we all “get it.”
This is what we “get”:
We “get” that no matter how many books or papers we read about our kids’ issues, we always feel like we’re reinventing the wheel and going it alone.
We “get” that even with the best of intentions, sometimes our husbands/family/friends just can’t understand what how challenging our daily lives can be.
We “get” that it’s frustrating to have to be our children’s best and sometimes only advocate, and wonder why the teachers/administrators can’t see the struggles that our kids have, and we wonder why it’s so hard sometimes to get them the help them need.
We “get” that sometimes you have to do whatever you can just to get through the day (or night), and if that means having your kid sleep in your bed or do laps outside the house at nine PM, then so be it. We know to pick the one or two or three most important battles of the day and deal with the rest.
We “get” that a parent would move heaven and earth to do anything to help their kid, but that financially and logistically it’s not always possible. And we understand the guilt that comes with feeling like you’re never doing enough.
We “get” that sometimes the stress is too much to handle alone — the worries and wonder that keep us awake at night long after our kids have come into our beds at two AM. Will our kids talk? Will they succeed in school? Will they have friends? Will they have jobs, go to college, have a family of their own?
We “get” that we all have a fear of the playground, birthday parties, and family get togethers. But we know that we have to let go of that fear, surround ourselves with people who care and understand our kids, and get ourselves out there.
And we “get” that some of us couldn’t meet past 10:30 PM, since that’s about the time when our kids start their night waking routine, and that in many cases we’re the only ones who can comfort them back to sleep.
As the sangria dried up and the last of the spinach dip was eaten, I asked everyone if they wanted to meet again, maybe skipping a month until August because summer can get so busy. The general consensus was we didn’t want to wait that long. We wanted — and maybe needed – to meet again in July. As one mother put it, “I might get a little crazy if I go that long without meeting with my girls!” Couldn’t have said it better myself.