Out of all things you can do to get through a journey like ours, connecting with others is probably one of THE MOST important things you can do for yourself. In fact, it's probably a good idea for all parents to connect with other parents once in a while, but especially parents of children with special needs.
For the first year of having a child with special needs, I knew not one person in my town that had a child with special needs. I knew plenty of parents online who I love, love, love and I could have been the queen of online playgroups, but human contact is always a good idea at some point.
So through a series of coincidences and knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone, a friend of mine suggested starting a playgroup for families with children with brain injury and cerebral palsy and she read my mind!
It doesn't really matter what our kids have or don't have, because honestly, play dates are for the parents. Especially our kind of play dates.
These are scenes from our first play date:
Christian with his buddies Lucas and Zac.
The mommies and their boys.
(l-r: Denise/Lucas, Me/Christian, Alicia/Quintin, Patricia/Zac)
For our second play date we decided to hit Ben's Bells last Friday night for open studio!
And it was a Moms only play date. Yeah, buddy.
Usually, open studio is where the public can go and paint ceramic pieces that will be used for future bells. You don't need any artistic ability either! And it's still a lot of fun.
Our duty at Ben's Bells was to paint Kindness Coins. Ben's Bells has programs in our local schools teaching how to spread kindness and combat bullying. In fact, they have a program at both Christian's elementary school and Gabe's middle school. Kindness Coins are given to the children to pass along to others who they see spreading acts of kindness. So we worked on painting Kindness Coins.
Then there was another really cool upcoming project we could participate in. If we chose to sign a kindness pledge (basically pledging to be more kind to others) we got to choose a colored, round, tile to paint our name on that will be part of a mural constructed locally, downtown.
So my first inclination was to write "Christian's Mommy" as seen below. But then I didn't want to leave my other kids out of the mix and it was too late. So I painted three small hearts on the bottom for each of my children so the others wouldn't feel left out. I don't think they care but whatev.
Our finished tiles...
A Ben's Bells bench.
Our play date wasn't over yet, though! We then stopped for pizza and beer and it turned into the best play date ever. It wasn't just a "night out with the girls" it was much better. We talked about what we used to be like, we talked about our kids, we talked about TV shows, we talked about our kids' therapies and what we've tried, and we laughed a lot. It was so awesome to be surrounded by other moms who have special kids, but who are not defined by it.
We also talked about how much we loved our kids and I thought of those moms when I read the last few sentences of a story to Lola tonight before I put her to bed (or, I should say, before she refused to go to bed).
I Love You So...
By Marianne Richmond
(Thank you Suavardez Family!)
"...Even when I'm sick...and I can't get out of bed?
Do you love me better HEALTHY than with fever in my head?"
I love you sick or able.
You're ALWAYS you to me,
the ONE I LOVE forevermore.
I CAN'T IMAGINE life
before YOU came along...
me there singing senseless,
no MEANING to my song.
Call it MEANT TO BE
or simply blessed by fate,
you fill my heart WITH LOVE...
and for THAT I celebrate.
Connect with those around you. It saves me.