We had our monthly meeting in Vermilion Not long ago, and despite the time change we still had a decent turnout.
There were differing opinions on some topics, and that’s great. Encouraged even. I really do like to get to know each and every single person there for who they are not for who the world wants them to be. This is a constant struggle within these types of groups, because we feel as though we can’t let our guards down for even a second. “Life is wonderful” is something I hear a lot from a lot of people the first time we meet… By about time 3 it goes to “boy we had a tough day” and within 6 months of meeting you I might hear “I need this contact so badly. Can we get together for a coffee, please?” In a text from a friend who I have met while advocating for special needs. Why does it take so long? Let me explain.
Parents within the group feel judged by everyone. You all think I’m judging you and so is everyone else. I’m not. I am an extremely non-judgemental person, and it may take some time for you to realize that but I am. The group, however, I can not control how things are taken and said within the group. That is why I get asked for one-on-one meetings. That is perfectly fine, because I get how you can feel very judged by the group. Know, though, that if the parent is at the group, chances are good that they have experienced what you are feeling or going through at some point in time.
I brought up respite to the group. A mom within the group said “I won’t take respite because I feel like it means that I don’t love my child enough” oh boy… No, it doesn’t mean that at all. And I’m not judging you either way, that is entirely your family’s decision to make… But if that feeling is the thing making you decline respite, please read on…
Another mama said it very best.
“Taking respite does not mean that you don’t love your child enough. It means that you love your child enough to take care of yourself, too! If you’re not at the top of your game, your child is not getting the very best of you. They deserve the very best of you.”
What is respite? Respite is a highly trained babysitter or care giver who cares for your child in your absence. That’s it, in a nutshell! Respite care is no different than daycare or hiring a babysitter for the evening, except for the fact that they are trained in what to do for your child’s specific needs.
To the mama who felt it was wrong: it may be wrong for you, in this stage in your life, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking respite. If, in the future, you decide that you want child care for your child and a babysitter isn’t an option (because let me tell you – there is no babysitter alive whom I would trust with my children – I, however, do not use respite either, but I would feel more comfortable with it than I would with a regular sitter…) and you decide to seek the highly trained respite individual, may you feel at peace with that decision. It won’t be an easy decision to make.
I strive to make the group as judgement free as possible, but if there is some reason why you feel you can not speak at the group, let me know. I try to deal with things as they come up, but sometimes that isn’t enough and you will require just a coffee or lunch date and that’s totally fine.
No matter what, no matter where we go, someone will always judge. I hope we can make the group as non-judgemental as possible.
My ultimate goal within the groups is that you feel safe and comfortable. It’s so amazing when a group can go from uncomfortable meetings to friends chatting. A bond was formed between all of the families the moment we joined the elite… The group of families raising superheroes, who just so happen to have disabilities. If we choose to put down the judgements and build upon that common bond, imagine how much stronger we could be.
Take care of yourselves.