Tonight I got to hang out with this...may I say...EXCEPTIONAL group of moms. Wow. What a great evening!!
It's always an amazing feeling when you can rest in the company of someone who walks your same journey.
Growing up as a missionary kid, I had some great friends. Some American. Some Italian. Some international friends from just about everywhere! There was nothing quite like hanging out with another missionary kid though. I can remember so clearly how freeing and :::sigh::: just 'burden-lifting' it was to be with another kid who was living my reality. I could relax. Let my guard down. I could finally stop answering stupid questions like "So what language do you guys speak in Italy?" and have a real conversation instead. I could just BE. Be myself and not have to explain this crazy (yet very enjoyable!) life that I was living.
When I entered my teaching career, I realized again how wonderful it is to have friends who just know. There's nothing like a fellow teacher friend. She understands that your work day doesn't end at 3:30. She knows that the stack of papers to grade never goes away. She, more than anyone else, knows that teaching isn't about just passing along information, but figuring out how each child learns and that's NOT an easy task. Fellow colleagues understand the complete exhaustion that comes along with teaching elementary children. The challenges, the frustrations, the inexplicable JOYS of teaching that keep you coming back year after year.
And now, once again, I'm finding myself resting in the presence of moms who just know. That's it....they just get it. There's no need for explanation. What bliss!! I guess I didn't realize how much time you spend e-x-p-l-a-i-n-ing when you're the mother of a special needs child. It's all for good....family and friends want to get inside your world.....doctors and nurses and therapists all need to know nitty-gritty details. Strangers and passer-byers will always have their questions and comments. It's not that any of this is bad. I'm so thankful for such a supportive community who WANTS to be a part. It's just...well, work. Sometimes, it feels like so much work. But not tonight. Tonight was just one special-needs mommy in the presence of another. No need to explain a diagnosis...or therapy regimens, or medications, or progress, or lack of progress. These are moms who understand the fears that come along with raising a child with so many needs.....who understand the work load, the worries, the frustrations. They Just Know. They know what it's like to go to bed feeling guilty that maybe you didn't do enough today. That's the question that always haunts us. Enough. Did I do enough today to help him be all that he can be? Have I researched enough? Are we doing enough therapy? Am I doing this whole thing RIGHT? These moms know that old friend, Grief, that comes around every now and then. Though time (and Jesus!) makes things better, there will always be that grief for what could have been. The grief you feel when you look at your weekly schedule and wish your son could just be a regular 'ol kid doing regular 'ol kid stuff instead of hours of therapy and doctor's visits. They're the moms that know what a miracle is. I'm talking about the everyday miracles. Not walking on water miracles. The other ones that most mommies miss. These are ladies that understand what it's like to be so overwhelmed at times at the task set in front of us. But, like me, they wouldn't trade it for the world. Cause these special kiddos are teaching us more about life, more about love, more about God than we even dreamed possible.
And when you meet another mommy who is on this same sort of journey, there is nothing quite like it.
P.S. If you are a parent of special needs child and have happened upon this post, I encourage you to check out exceptionalfamilytv.com. You will find weekly episodes featuring families around the nation raising kids with special needs and a whole host of resources available to you. I think you'll find it very encouraging to connect with others who walk this same road.