Thursday, October 22, 2009

Other Mothers

I like doing things my way. I like to run a tight ship, keep everything under control and manage any situation that arises. My attitude is if you want something done right then let me do it. I understand that people are different and there are more ways than one to run a life but honestly, my way is the best way. I have it all figured out.

Good plan except that it didn't work. Sure there were moments of success but then something would happen and my plan would get tested. Still I battled through until I could get life back to neat and normal. By myself. Because when you know exactly what you're doing, you don't require any help. Then my tight ship sprung a leak.

3 1/2 years ago when Zach was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, I found myself in need of help, lots of help. The pediatrician, the psychologist, the therapists, the teachers, the diagnosticians all offered their type of help. And that was great and still is because Zach has made enormous gains with their help. But the help I came to depend on most came from other mothers.

Mothers whose children shared my son's diagnosis. Mothers whose children weren't like Zach but had another diagnosis. Mothers who had been where I was and were not only willing but happy to share their experiences. Other mothers. I hung on their every word. I listened as they told me what worked and what didn't. I rejoiced when their children made gains. It gave me hope that Zach could one day be where their children are now.

A couple of days ago I spent the afternoon in the home of another mother. Her name had been passed along to me by a teacher who raved about this mother's knowledge and the difference she's making in her child's life. Her daughter has the same diagnosis as Zach but is a few years older. I'll point out that although their diagnosis is the same, there are differences in behaviors and characteristics. The same diagnosis will not look the same in each child and a child's personality always plays an important role in behavior. Having said that, the other mother and I found many things in common for both our children.

We spent hours sharing the various therapies and treatments we've tried. What worked and what didn't, what we regret and what we still might do. So much in common, an instant connection. She understands. Her honesty in admitting mistakes she'd made gave me a chance to learn from someone else's experiences. Anytime she began a sentence with "If I had to do it again.." I took notes. I also wrote down the computer programs she uses, the books she's read and the websites she checks. When the other mother shared specific things to watch for at school, I wrote those down too.

Before our time ended we had connected in many ways. We wrapped up the visit discussing how blessed we are to have children who are different. What if they weren't ours? What if we had missed the chance to see life through unusual eyes? What about the parents who were expecting a typical story, like we all do, and got a mystery instead? Will they spend a lifetime trying to re-write it?

I thanked the other mother profusely for her time and we agreed that we must have lunch soon, just for fun. As I drove toward school I went over all that I had learned and my head was swimming with ideas and information. But mostly I was overwhelmed with inspiration. That mother is incredible. Her attitude, her knowledge, her heart. Her willingness to share. I am encouraged.

I'm sad to think what I would miss if I were trying to do this alone. I am grateful for the other mothers.

7 comments:

  1. I'm also grateful for other mothers. I led a MOMS group for over two years b/c I felt so passionately about women coming together to be there for one another.

    I'm glad you shared in a meaningful experience with someone who knows a bit about your road.
    ~ Wendy

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  2. Christina, I read your blog all the time. We can so identify with you and your experiences, eventhough our nephew who has autism is 14. I know the pain of not being able to help a child who can't seem to express himself or his feelings in a "normal" way. Especially when he misses his Mom so dearly much and there is nothing I can do about it. I too am such a perfectionist, desperately trying to let go. Please keep sharing your stories, because it gives hope and inspiration.

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  3. this is so sweet, makes me think of just how much power we all hold with our words and actions. She made a huge deposit in your life, just in an afternoon. I love mothers too!! We are the best!

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  4. Hi Christina,

    Thanks so much for leaving a comment today! I appreciated your encouragement and wisdom! And I'm very glad to get to connect with you! As you said in your post, we would miss out on so much if we tried to do things alone--and I feel that way about the writing journey, just as I do about motherhood!

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  5. Another compelling post. I can't relate to the particulars, but I can certainly relate to the importance of being surrounded and the camaraderie offered by other mothers. Parenthood, no matter what, has its tough spots and precipices, and we can never do it alone. I revel in my friendships with other mothers. I revel in the fact that I have women to go to when I am anxious or excited. It is interesting because in many respects, I think our society expects us to be industrious and independent, but deep down, I think we are wired to need others and to be there for others. Thanks for putting words to these important ideas.

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  6. Hi Christina,

    Just wanted to let you know...you tied for first place in my String a Story Together Contest.

    I have a tiebreaking solution. Head over to my blog to read more...

    Hint: a fourth picture & a new picture...

    Hope you'll get a chance before Tues. PM.

    Great job. Go get 'em!
    ~ Wendy

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  7. You are a Mother Warrior! You are a Warrior Mother!

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