How do I do that when my closest family lives an hour away, when I don't really have any friends, and the ones I do have live on the other side of town?
Last summer/fall I started attending Foundation for Blind Children's Infant Program with Sadie on Friday mornings, and there was a parent meeting each week where I got to meet some people and make some friends. But we only saw each other at FBC, and we didn't always make it each week.
But then I was told about a group of moms who all live here in the Phoenix area who have formed a network, a support system for each other. All of these moms have children with special needs ranging from Cerebral Palsy to genetic disorders to near drowning accidents, and they call themselves the Mighty Moms. And they connect via Facebook (now, there's something I can do regularly!)
I requested to be added to the group on Facebook, which is private and exclusive. And then I soon got an invitation in my email for a dinner get-together. You see, each month, these women escape "real life" and go out to dinner together. And it's different than just going out with your friends, because these women understand how badly you needed to get out of the house, and they understand that as soon as you go home and walk through that door, you'll have to hit the ground running and you'll never have time to bask in the glow of your evening out.
I remember I was so excited to attend that first dinner. I knew one person in the group (the woman who introduced me to it) and she wasn't going to be there. I didn't care. I needed this. It was 4 days before Sadie's g-tube surgery, 6 days before school started, and I needed a last hurrah to say goodbye to the summer!
I haven't missed a monthly dinner since then.
There is just something about a friendship that is based on the foundation of shared hardship. And sure, my struggles with Sadie might be different than someone else's struggles with their kid, but the fact is, we all struggle. And we get that, we know that about each other. Life isn't easy for any of us. But for those few hours that we're together each month, it is. We laugh and joke and drink and eat and hug and cry just like "normal" people...and then we go home feeling like we've had our batteries recharged and we can make it another month until we get to see all our friends again.
And we share. I love the Mighty Moms Facebook page the week before the monthly dinner because there are dozens of posts from people asking if anybody needs diapers because they have a bunch extra (for some people, if their child is older and still wears diapers, insurance provides them for free), or someone else might have extra formula because their tube-fed kid has started eating food now and doesn't need everything they get from insurance. This last dinner, I gave someone a bunch of bags that go with the feeding pump, because we just don't use them anymore. So, when dinner is over, it's like a big gift exchange as we all walk out to the parking lot together and get stuff out of our cars and give it to someone else! It's so neat to see so much sharing and giving.
This group of women is truly special and I am so thankful to have found them and that I get to be a part of their group. I honestly can now say that I feel like I have a support system.