When I was pregnant with daughter I joined a moms’ support group at my church. I’m not really sure what I was looking for since my baby was not even here yet. I just knew that all of my friends were joining and I was so anxious to jump into the world of mommyhoood that I decided I wanted to join too.
I had no clue what the meetings would entail and if it was something I would enjoy but I quickly fell in love with the camaraderie, the support, and of course the food. Soon after that first meeting, my daughter Sarah Hazel was born then my son Cameron less than a year and a half later.
I tried to keep up with moms’ support group meetings but juggling two babies did not come easy to me and I began to resent any sort of obligation, even my support group.
I like to think that I am a natural mother, but for some reason I just struggled. It was overwhelming and tiring. Looking back on it, I now believe that the reason I had such a tough transition was because of my daughter’s sensory issues.
Back then, I just thought maybe I was a failure, but now I realize that my “spirited” little girl has not been the easiest of children. Add a newborn to the mix, and well…chaos is bound to happen. During that first year of two under two, I felt alone, isolated, and completely overwhelmed. I had friends who talked about how easy their two under two experience was. Instead of inspiring me, it just made me feel like a failure because it was not coming as easily for me.
My son spent almost his entire first year in pain from a GI motility disorder. Plus, his developmental issues were becoming more apparent. My daughter on the other hand was becoming more “spirited” by the day. It became easier to just stay at home than to deal with her fits in public.
If I had only known then that she has SPD and I could have gotten her into early therapy, then maybe my days would have been a bit easier. By the time summer rolled around, I had decided that I would not return to the moms’ support group the next year. I was tired of being different. I wanted support from other moms but everytime I would go to a meeting, I left feeling more alone than I did when I arrived. It seemed like no one understood me or what I was going through. How could that be? It was a room full of moms! The first support group meeting of fall 2010 came and went without me. I could have cared less.
Then one morning a friend mentioned the meeting and how they had created a new small group this year just for special needs moms. I was not sure if I was a special needs mom but with the urging of that friend, I went to the next meeting. That night, another of my friends who created the special needs group asked if I wanted to join them. It was at that moment that I realized that I was a special needs mom and it was time that I owned it. For the first time since that very first meeting back in 2007, I felt like I fit in. I actually looked forward to the next meeting and the next. Our group is a small one, with only 4 of us led by one mentor. All 4 of us have children with different needs but all of us have at least one child with sensory issues. We laugh, we cry, and we pray for each other. Finally, I found a group that doesn’t just listen to stories about how tough some of our days are but instead, I found friends who get it because they know from experience.
Supportive friendships are a must for all moms, but especially for those who are not living the typical motherhood. If you know a mom going through a tough time, take time to listen and let her know that while you may not understand what she is going through, you are there to support, listen and be a shoulder to cry on. And most importantly, ask questions. Some people do not like to talk about what they are going through unless they know they have a sympathetic listener to pour their heart out too.