After a really hard week, I googled “Moms with kids with special needs who understand what I am going through”. “Happy Mama Retreat” came up. It is this amazing conference/retreat for moms who “get me”. Penny Williams put this together and it was a weekend I will not soon forget. I took two planes to get to North Carolina and was anxious, not just about flying alone, but for showing up to this place without knowing a soul. My middle school anxiety came back in huge waves. What if they all know eachother and they don’t include me? What if they don’t get me? What if they aren’t like me at all? God, it was the middle school cafeteria saga all over again. 

But, I powered through my fear because I REALLY wanted, no NEEDED this to work for me. I needed to meet a women who understood what my day to day looked like, because I was drowning at home and feeling totally misunderstood. 

My mature, adult mind knew that if you had a child with special needs the last thing you would allow is for someone to feel left out. And that is exactly what happened. These women from all over the country “got me”. They had kids with autism, anxiety, sensory processing disorder, bipolar and other invisible needs. They were my people. My tribe. I felt immediately welcomed and enveloped in compassion and understanding. It was AMAZING!

We had a weekend of tears and laughter about things that my friends at home would NEVER understand. It felt so freeing for me. Being able to say aloud that sometimes my kid scares me. Being able to say my son threatened to commit suicide and not be stared at in complete shock. I wanted to move in with these people and raise our special kids together!! They have had the same frustrations I have had about other family members having a hard time accepting our kids’ diagnosis. It was liberating and wonderful and peaceful. 

So, the medicine for a mother with special needs kids, (besides the normal antidepressant), should be a weekend with other special needs moms. It has allowed me to not feel shame about my children, but to speak freely about what makes our family unique. 

Happy Mama Retreat, see you next year!!!

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