You’ve heard of Sister Wives on TLC? I feel an equal kinship with the women who’ve shared my journey with Anna’s special needs for the last ten years. I call them my Sister Moms.
Our first get-together of the iVillage group was back in 2003. We called it the Rubber Duckie Reunion.
When you find out that you are going to be a mother of a child with special needs, whether it’s while you’re pregnant, when your baby is born or during infancy, or at some point during their childhood, you join a special club. It’s a club that no one wants to be in and you discover almost immediately that this club is filled with the most amazing mothers. There are veterans in the club that show you the platitude-filled poems (Welcome to Holland anyone?)… tell you about the best websites, message boards, and support forums… and share tips and resources willingly. They share war stories about testing, hospitalizations, home health care nurses, ARD meetings, divorce. They overwhelm you, they scare you, they reassure you, they comfort you. They understand.
There are mothers who are brand spankin’ new to the club who are dazed, confused, and grieving… and some are in denial. They are searching for the crystal ball in which the future is foretold. They are hungry for information. They are willing to try any therapy, travel the world to seek treatment, completely change their family’s diet. They are ready to tackle, fight, conquer, cure. They understand too.
These moms come from all walks of life: they are hairdressers, dancers, nurses, teachers, accountants, web designers, corporate executives, waitresses, artists. It seems as though it would be hard to connect with each other in any manner other than superficial and stilted, but that is not the case at all. We connect instantly, deeply, and with incredible empathy and compassion. In fact, we get a radar about us that lets us recognize each other at the park, the grocery store, the library. A glance is all it takes.
These women are my sister moms and today I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to them.
For some of my sister moms, today is not a special day… it’s a bittersweet day. So much of what we do (really as any mother) requires a lot of sacrifice. But where moms of typical children get to look forward to gratitude, acknowledgement, a gift, and eventually an empty nest… we do not. Days blend in to each other, specialists, therapies, meetings, it’s a full-time job. Some sister moms end up single. It’s a tough gig, it forces couples into crisis where monotony, stress, and financial worry take its toll.
Happy Mother’s Day to those sister moms who do not get breakfast in bed or homemade cards. Some sister moms do not hear “I love you, Mommy” because their child cannot speak. Some do not get to feel the gentle touch of a child’s hand on their own because their child doesn’t move. Some sister moms have children in heaven. Some sister moms spend the day like any other day… changing wet sheets, adjusting feeding tubes, cleaning up poo painting, staring at the wall of a hospital room. Seeing Hallmark commercials and the celebrations of other mothers on Facebook is painful and unleashes an ache, a longing, a wish for things to be different.
Some sister moms do get to celebrate today because after many years, their child wrote their own name on your Mother’s Day card for the first time. Some sister moms celebrate because today there wasn’t a seizure. Some are lucky to have a supportive husband who lets you sleep in, or a loving sister who does your grocery shopping. Some sister moms got a homemade card from their child that was made in school with their special education teacher. Some sister moms are happy their child handled a Mother’s Day brunch without making a scene.
Some sister moms feel blessed to be on this journey. Some sister moms wish life could be different.
Mother’s Day is about celebrating ALL moms… but especially to me, it’s about celebrating my sister moms. Happy Mother’s Day to my sisters. I recognize and celebrate each and every one of you. I wish you could feel like every other mother… just for one day. I love you all.