The club

Note: Originally posted over at the HennHouse.

I had no intention of re-posting this piece here. But chaos in the 12-year-old’s life, a non-reported plugged up toilet in the kids bathroom, and tomato plants that are angry that I’ve kept them in too-small pots for far too long have all beckoned me away from the computer and writing the last few days. So, I’m recycling.

This piece is not intended to exclude anyone. There are some women that I know who are members of this club who don’t have children with special needs. And some who don’t have children at all. They are members because they love my children.

Or maybe they love yours. 


There are some moms I know… maybe you know them, too.

I know a mom who explains to the airline ticket agent at the counter that her son has autism. Or Aspergers. And she watches as the employee observes her son’s obsessive behavior. Or his intense interest in the wings of the airplane.

I know a mom who checks her daughter’s diaper every ten minutes to see if it is wet so she can catheterize her and measure the post-void residual. Measure what her daughter can’t pee out because of her undiagnosed neurological disorder and her rare metabolic disorder.

I know a mom who struggles to explain the “blind” disabilities her children have. And how, because of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or the Reactive Attachment Disorder, they really can’t help it. That their behaviors are not born of lack of discipline or bad parenting, even though that is what the outside world sees.

I know a mom who has fought day in and day out with insurance companies and state agencies to provide life-saving equipment for her son who was born with an extra chromosome. And, though tired, I’ve watched her continue to fight because she is on a mission to prove that a life with Down Syndrome is a life worth living.

I know a mom who adopted a baby she knew would be sick. Who she knew would have a hard road ahead. And she still feels every, single struggle her tiny daughter goes through.

I know a mom whose son is addicted to drugs. She raised him by herself… setting aside her own desires to give him the best life possible. And she isn’t giving up on him now. My heart breaks with each update of relapse.

I know a mom who struggles not to be embarrassed when her son can’t seem to sit still or reads every, single label at the grocery store. Out loud. She tries not to wonder what others think and she tries not to be bitter that her son has to deal with ADHD.

I know these women because we are in the same club. Oh, we don’t pay dues and there isn’t a secret handshake; we don’t have a name and there are no rules or bylaws.

Except that we don’t judge each other.

And we don’t apologize for the way we raise our kids. 

You can’t elect to join this club just because you want to. It isn’t that kind of club. You are handed your membership papers in the fine print of a diagnosis you never wanted to hear.

I didn’t think about this club when I stood before a judge and promised to love my sons no matter what. No matter the problems. No matter the diagnoses. No matter what.

I didn’t think about this club when I sat in an exam room and a sterile, professional neurosurgeon told me what would be “wrong” with my daughter.

Other moms were never in my thoughts. And certainly, I never thought about how much I would need them when I didn’t think I could take another breath.

But that is the beauty of this club. This community. They seem to appear in the crowds and reach out through cyberspace. We don’t think of ourselves as “special needs moms.”

We’re just moms.

Parenting our children is our number one priority. But sometimes, we have to do it from the side of a hospital bed. Or we have to do it creatively. Or we do it through a different lens. Or we lose friends because they don’t want their kids around ours. Or we lose family because they don’t understand the diagnosis, the therapy, or why in the world we would want to adopt more kids.

The members of this club understand.

They meet you on your porch with pomegranate martinis and pour over outdated printed web pages with you searching for the same thing—hope. They leave you encouraging or funny notes about something or nothing at all. They send you cards in the mail filled with confetti just so that you have one thing to smile about today. 

They celebrate with you when your three-year-old daughter finally stands up on her own for the first time. They grieve with you when your son is suspended from school. They understand why you don’t leave your kids in the nursery and they are angry with you when you are asked not to bring your kids back to junior church.

They celebrate with you and mourn with you when the minute and mundane become more than bearable. They know that even though you mess up bad sometimes, you are doing exactly the best that you can.

These are my people.

These moms get that I want to be a mom first and deal with the special needs after, but that most of the time I don’t have a choice. These women will stand next to me as my child is wheeled into surgery. And cry with me when the results are better than expected. These are the women who understand why I rock my 12-year-old son in a big rocking chair desperate for attachment. And cry with me when he pushes harder against that love.

These are the women who believe with me that what it says in John 9 is about our kids.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

These moms believe with me that through their disabilities, our children will have the work of God displayed in and through their lives.

And these women still hope with me that someday, we will brush our hands along the hem of His robe and our children will be healed completely.

These are the women who love my kids simply because they are my kids. And will grieve and celebrate their disabilities simply because they love me.

These are my people.  

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