Saturday, December 10, 2011
I "run" a support group called the Amazing Graces. I didn't name us, the founder of the group did. She felt that it took a certain level of grace to mother these kids, and that the kids themselves were amazing. She had a need for support as she was raising a child with medical issues, and didn't feel that her friends with typicals could really understand or hold all that that entailed, so she went in search of those that did. Enter me. Sometimes it's great having a child that obviously is atypical, it makes me approachable to others feeling like they're the only one.
Our group started with four people: the founder with a child with medical needs, two moms with kids that had mental health-related issues, and me. Eventually the founder moved out of the state and I took the reins. We now have an e-mail distribution list of almost 50, and generally have 12-15 people at our monthly meetings. Of those 12-15 we have our 10 or so "core members," ones that come month after month after month, a few that come now and then, and almost always, someone new. We are all word of mouth and we now cover a wide range of different abilities, ASD, ADHD, mental illnesses, seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, you name it. I've lost track, but I think this is about our 7th or 8th year of being together.
One thing that has been coming up lately is the need for more support for the dads. We thought having a Christmas party might be a good ice breaker, get a bunch of the dads all in the same room, and just see if a men's group could evolve from that. By men's group I mean, going out for a few beers at the pub up the street. So, last night we had our party. It was awesome. We had people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. We had those born and raised in this very neighborhood and those born in foreign lands. We had nurses, doctors and attorneys, flight attendants, teachers, receptionists and self-employed entrepreneurs. We had plenty of those that once worked outside the home until the day our child's needs became so great, that was no longer an option. We had those with one child and those with four. The one thing we all had in common, was at least one child with special needs (many have more than one).
STM said it was the best party he's ever been too - couldn't stop talking about what a great group of people. Many of the conversations did revolve around our children, but many did not. There were a lot of laughs and a couple teary eyes. There were exchanges of information, words of encouragement, and much, much grace.
It was amazing.
* photo from http://www.chinese-symbols.com