Recently at a local conference for parents of kids with disabilities, a young mom whom I didn’t know stood up and said, “Please can someone talk to me? I’m so overwhelmed!”
Appreciating her honesty and understanding her desperation, I hugged her. I hugged her because we weren’t really strangers. We were on this road together, a road that made us more family than strangers. We were moms who loved our children with disabilities and wanted the best for them, but can be confused by this world we find ourselves in.
I let her know it’s okay to feel like she was drowning in the pressure, the worry, the unknown, and the information. I assured her that even though it may look like the rest of the moms had it all together, we all break down at times. I explained that behind many of the smiles, there were scared minds and broken hearts. She was not alone.
All mothers worry about their children’s future. At times, we all get overwhelmed. How much more often does a mom of a young child with a disability get overwhelmed when thinking of her child's future?
I assured her she was in the right place. She was right where she needed to be. She had come to a conference to learn as much as she could about planning for her child’s future. And, yes, it was overwhelming.
My advice to her? Take some nuggets from every gathering of parents you attend at the conference. Don’t try to walk out of here with a plan to fix the whole world. Don’t leave thinking you’re going to follow through on every single thing you learned. Instead, leave the conference with some little nuggets. It doesn’t have to be huge and daunting. Choose a few little pieces of information that you can remember and act on. It’s by thinking and acting on a few things you learned that will make a big change in your child’s life. Digest a little bit at a time.
I also encouraged her to find a group of moms to meet with regularly. Relationships with others who can relate is a powerful weapon against isolation and drowning in worry. Friends can encourage each other to keep up the good work and to take the next steps.
But then I remembered that she really wasn’t a stranger. She is a fellow mom. We are walking this road together. And we truly need each other. We need to speak. We need to listen. And sometimes, we need a hug.
Be sure to check out Family Support on this website for more information on support for families of kids with disabilities.
As a parent to a child with a disability, we often must learn little tricks to get things done. Each month one parent shares some of the tips and tricks she has learned along the way.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to find the profession that is our life’s work. I did.