Strength in Numbers


March 28, 2011 by Marj Hatzell

I am very fortunate. I have tons and tons of support. I have great neighbors and friends, fantastic family and great schools for my boys. One thing that has been severely lacking? Other autism parents.

I belong to a local online group and used to go to support meetings but lately it has sort of fizzled a bit and honestly, their topics the past year have not interested me. These groups are GREAT for new parents. One thing the local schools have been getting at is having groups for the parents of the kids that attend there. The parents get to know one another and they have something in common it’s a win-win (WINNING!)

I know PLENTY of parents of kids like Bug Boy. I know a FEW parents of kids like Bugaboo. I’ve found people all over the country (and world) thanks to the Magic of the Internets but it isn’t the same as having a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) with someone in the same situation, you know? I LOVE my friends and family and I LOVE that they are pulling for us and care for us and do what they can to help us. But I don’t get to interact enough with parents that have kids like Bugaboo. Does that make sense? If it does, I’m surprised. I’m not exactly the sense-making type.

This past weekend, a group of moms from Bugaboo’s school PTO was getting together to put together baskets and door prizes for an upcoming Beef and Beer/Silent Auction and I jumped at the chance to be there. I’ll admit, I could be much better about attending the PTO meetings but in the 18 months he has been at the school, I’ve been to TWO meetings. I know two families personally that go to the school and there are SIXTY students. I need to get to more meetings. Ahem. I also want to be more involved at the school, since it is likely he will be attending there for the next thirteen years and stuff.

Where was I? Right. Making baskets and stuff.

So there was a group of ten of us at one of the their houses. We put together baskets, chatted about the school and the therapists, talked about struggles and challenges, lamented about things that make us sad, laughed heartily at some of the funny things our kids do and encouraged one another. Seriously, y’all, it was just what I needed. They have kids JUST LIKE BUGABOO. Many of them have the same behavior challenges. Some of them are non-verbal. Many of them are acrobats like he is and make Spiderman look like an amateur. Most of their kids were older but I was encouraged by hearing stories of where they started and where they are now.  It felt so good.

I felt normal.

I haven’t felt like I’ve fit in. Sure, I have things in common with the parents at Bug Boy’s school and I have a group of friends there and get to go out to lunch or dinner or have drinks and whatnot. But not many people know what we’re going through with Bugaboo.  This group of women?  The mommies from Bugaboo’s school?They get it. And I’ve met a few Daddies that get it, too. And those Daddies? I need to get them together more often with Bugaboo’s Daddy because we are not alone. We have this group of people who totally get it. Wow.

And that recharged my batteries quite a bit. It made meltdown city last night seem like no big thang. Even though it was a very big thang. And it motivated me to get shiz done around this house so we moved some furniture and cleaned out the basement and threw out loads of stuff and sent five bags to goodwill. And when Bugaboo was crying because he was overly tired (try eating more, dude, then you won’t be so freaking hungry in the middle of the night, yo) I was all, “I CAN HANDLE THIS.” And when Bug Boy was sobbing in the car from sheer exhaustion from playing with his “twin” cousin for the entire weekend,  I was all, “WHATEVS, DUDE, YOU’RE GONNA LIVE.”

See? Feeling good and being recharged makes parenting a breeze! I mean, it makes it more tolerable and somewhat less difficult to manage. Yeah, that’s it.

6 thoughts on “Strength in Numbers

  1. Amanda says:

    That sounds awesome. We have a hard time finding other parents who get it. Then we do, kind of. Then we get to the unique military aspect, and still, no one who truly gets the shiz we deal with irl. I really wish the military would set up groups at each post. With stats like 1 in 88 being tossed about, there has to be at least 2 kids at each post/base (you’d think).

  2. Yvonne says:

    Good, good, for you, my friend. I can feel the relief in your voice. Me, I feel like folks in our district are always trying to hide their piece of the pie from each other. No one talks to me about Kiki’s school, no one ever shares about particular teachers and the district and how to get what we need, and no one EVER talks about due process…perhaps they are not allowed? LOL. I feel that we are pitted against each other by the powers that be, so that most of the time families are on their own, so why should I help anyone else out? Selfish, sad, but true. I am glad that you have found like-minded souls. I still look and wait.

  3. Erica says:

    My autism mom friends are my touchstone! How I would have survived these past 4 years without them, I do not know. I hope you will keep getting together with yours!

  4. Lyndal says:

    Amen! I found my “village” through Facebook and am so grateful to be part of such a great little group of Mums and Dads. Our boys all go to different schools but we get together to go to the park, go bowling and we took them camping recently. Camping was brilliantly insane: 8 aspie boys aged 6 to 10 + 5 brave/foolish parents = exhausted but happy parents and happy but exhausted boys. We’re even wild and crazy and have kid-free nights to just hang out, drink wine and enjoy being normal in our abnormally gorgeous worlds.

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