Category Archives: Special-Needs Parenting

My Tribe

“You’re going to have to surround yourself with supportive people to walk alongside you during this time”, my friend told me with grave concern in her voice. I nodded silently acknowledging her comment. As her words were sinking in I hung up the phone. The thought that crossed my mind was… Really?  For a food program?  For the next 8 weeks I would be drastically altering what I consume. This would be beyond what I previously would have ever asked myself to do. It was beyond what I would have thought was necessary.  But as we find in life, time and circumstances change. This was now a challenge I felt  necessary to take on. The time, energy and costs would be weighed with the results.

Within 24 hrs. I knew how very right my friend was.  Whenever we attempt to make changes in our life, long lasting changes, we need support. The more difficult the changes, the deeper the support. “You need your tribe”, she told me.  My tribe…mmm. I think I get it.  I remember the early days after my daughter’s diagnosis and the realization that life would never be the same. My mental time line has a slash marking the before and after of becoming a special needs parent.  My job description changed that day and more would be asked of me than ever before. I had so much to learn to step into my new role. There were large national organizations and local special education groups available to parents. Yes these were helpful with the mechanics of navigating the medical and school parts of it.  But I wouldn’t have survived if those had been my only lifeline.  Adjusting to the “new normal ” would have overwhelmed me…if not for my tribe.  Not a word I used back then, but it fits.  One definition of tribe is “a group of kindred spirits in pursuit of a common interest.” We became that lifeline to each other. We supported each other thru lifestyle changes we never could have imagined let alone signed up for.  My tribe was crucial to me becoming the person I needed to be for my daughter. We laughed, we cried, we said irreverent things never to be repeated. We understood each other. Continue reading My Tribe

Acts of Kindness

In my previous post,  Who’s Your Daddy, I referenced the concept of God as Father-n-law. Married to another child of God, I have a heavenly Father-n-law. As a mother, I can try to imagine the feelings of protectiveness we share for our children.  God in protective parent mode..oh boy! Not sure I want a visual on that one. The flip side of the coin is how we feel as parents when kindness is extended to our child. I have appreciated acts of kindness towards all of my children over the years but some really stick out.  These would be ones directed towards my special-needs daughter.  Most specifically from other kids.

When my daughter was younger, preschool age, the kids were more accepting of her differences. As kids get older, they become more aware of the differences. Some kids become very uncomfortable with the differences.  At best they would just exclude her, at worst become mean.  During the preteen years I was told many kids are so uncomfortable in their own skin they have a low tolerance for others who are different.  My oldest son had to deal with a couple of neighborhood bullies at the bus stop during middle school.  They said nothing to my daughter but were relentless to him about his sister.  Around that time a  new kid at school, Matt, came over to our house.  My son’s defenses went up at his question, “Does your sister have a disability?”  Bracing for what might come next, my son answered truthfully.  As he retold the story to me later, the surprise and relief were still in his voice. Upon confirming that his sister was not typical, his new friend responded, “That must be hard for your family.” Now I was the one taken aback.  Such grace and maturity from an 11 year old?  More to his credit, Matt followed those words with actions whenever he came over. He made a point of engaging my daughter in conversation and inviting her to join them in activities.  I haven’t adequate words to express the positive feelings this brought forth in me towards Matt.  He wasn’t in the neighborhood long, but Matt will always be welcome in our home. Continue reading Acts of Kindness

The Twilight Years

It was December 2012.  My teens were watching TV in our family room. I breezed thru long enough to hear, “How could anyone not know about the Twilight Phenomenon? They must be living with their head in the sand for last 5 years!”  I take two steps back.  Wait..what? I have no clue what this movie actor is talking about. Is this an astronomical event? I could ask my kids. Thinking better of risking my credibility for future life experiences, I Google it.  Apparently a series of books about vampires became insanely popular and movies were being made. Who knew? Apparently everyone but me. Continue reading The Twilight Years