Dear ESME Sisters,
When I was pregnant with my first child, I followed all the guidelines for a healthy and safe pregnancy. I thought if I did everything right, I would have a healthy, typical baby.
It didn’t quite work out that way. My son was exponentially more sensitive, reactive, hyper, and aggressive. He was a difficult baby who became an angry young man.
By the time my daughter was born four years later, I understood that my son had special needs even if I did not always know how to meet them. Then my girl didn’t meet her milestones, and I quickly saw that she also had special needs.
Hers are cognitive. His are mental-health issues along with physical needs from a life-changing accident. I have been parenting them for two decades and, most of the time, as a Solo Mom.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that neither one of them wants to be defined by his or her disabilities. They are Danny and Miranda, my kids. They were always my kids first, and not everyone we encountered saw them that way. Like you, I also felt the daggers of judgment from shoppers when my son screamed for soda. I felt the arrows of pity from mothers at the playground when my daughter could not say “Hi” or climb up the play structure.
This journey we share as Solo Moms of kids with special needs has all the same components as those of any parent, but we also have a lot of extra. Many of us have spent hours in hospitals, at therapy appointments, or on the phone trying to get insurance companies to pay for these appointments. We decline invitations to parties and events, knowing our kids just can’t handle them. We long to sleep in, revisit a hobby, and connect with old friends.
The other thing we do is look for others who understand our journey. We catch the eyes of other moms who also have a kid climbing the fence or struggling to walk, and we wonder, Are you in my tribe?
Over the years, I have found my people. I have many friends who also have kids with special needs. Some of them are also Solo Moms like me—like us. We nod at one another’s stories. We support one another’s struggles, and we celebrate every success, both ours and our kids’.
I don’t know if I would still be standing if I did not have my tribe of Solo Moms of kids with special needs. And even though my children are now young adults, I still need my tribe—in some ways, even more so. I am getting older, I am tired, and like many of you, I deal with some “compassion fatigue.”
I invite you to join our ESME Tribe to engage together in raw conversations about our challenges, to affirm our heartaches, and to rejoice in the ordinary. We are sisters across the miles and through the ages. Let’s share, grow, cry, laugh, and nod our heads together as ESME Sisters to chat and to learn through ESME’s resources. I need you to share this unique journey with me. Together, we become a fierce tribe of Solo Moms.
We got this.