A few years ago, I went on a couple of blind dates with two moms I met online. Unlike my immediate circle of friends, these women had kids with special needs, and I desperately wanted to connect with parents who had experienced something similar to what we were going through with Syona.
After a busy week at work, I had the opportunity attend Thrive, the Three to Be fundraising gala. This annual fundraiser supports an organization that I love, as Three to Be funds research and supports parents of kids with neurological disorders. It was started by Dana Florence, and she explains the organization so well in this interview for Breakfast Television. The focus of the night wasn’t so much to learn from one another, but letting loose and just having a good time.
I know many of the parents from Three to Be’s target="_blank">Parent Advocacy Link (PAL). This Facebook group is a wonderful place to connect, gain information, get feedback, share our biggest joys and ask for support when we’re feeling low. It’s a group that allowsfor disagreement—which generates some great conversation—but the tone is always respectful.
Parenting can be made easier when supported by a community. When I started my journey as a mom, I expected my community would consist of my family, friends and a handful of other parents I met along the way. What I didn’t expect was that virtual strangers—like the folks in the PAL group or the amazing people that read this blog and cheer Syona on—would become such important and valued members of our community.
We ate some delicious food, enjoyed some awesome entertainment and spent a lot of time smiling and laughing. There were also important conversations that happened: Like how dads of kids with special needs should take opportunities to connect with other dads and the idea of a playdate that would bring all of our families together. Sometimes we can make the quality of our very existence and our community stronger with the simplest of actions.
When you connect with another parent who has a child with special needs, it is like the friendship starts about five years in, at a level of advanced comfort. Organizations like Three to Be, and the generous people who support them, make it happen. And for that I couldn’t be more grateful.
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