The Top 10 Things I Learned From Spending a Weekend with Special Needs Moms
A few weeks ago I left for a Friendship Circle Moms’ Spa Retreat with no idea what to expect except for a massage and two nights away from my family.
I came home with pains in my sides from laughing so hard, a rejuvenated spirit, and a deeper affinity toward my children.
I also returned with something I never expected to take home – meaningful connections with 20 other moms of special-needs children I barely knew before the weekend.
On Friday we were practically strangers. By Sunday we felt like long lost sisters simply because we understand the unique joys and challenges of raising children with special needs.
During a weekend of laughter, tears, discussions, and soul searching, I learned so much from these women. I now hope to capture some of the weekend’s most valuable lessons and pass them along to all the other mothers in our sisterhood.
In the spirit of David Letterman, here are the top 10 things I learned from spending a weekend with a group of extraordinary moms who are parenting extraordinary kids.
1. No matter how old your child is, there will always be moments when you grieve over the challenges of raising a child with special needs.
2. Although we are in a sisterhood we didn’t ask to join, being with women who understand the unique challenges of special-needs parenting makes the journey less lonely.
3. It is incredibly easy to bond with other moms of children with special needs. Regardless of our personalities or beliefs and regardless of the ages of our children or the severity of their disabilities, we easily relate to each other because of our unique parenting experiences.
4. As mothers we are truly strong women, even when we don’t feel strong.
5. It is possible to laugh and cry multiple times in a short amount of time (and even do both at the same time).
6. We love our children unconditionally even on the days when it’s hard to accept them.
7. Being with other women who “just get it” can fill your soul and rejuvenate you in ways you didn’t think were possible. Of course being at a spa without listening to fighting, crying or whining doesn’t hurt either.
8. Parenting special-needs children gives us a sense of purpose and makes us advocates in ways we could have never previously imagined.
9. Maintaining a sense of humor is crucial to keeping our sanity. Our kids often do funny things and their actions or words -while embarrassing in the moment – often make for great stories even if it takes five years to appreciate the humor.
10. A relaxed and rejuvenated mom is necessary for the well-being of the entire family.