I love this blog, our Facebook page, and the book, Easy to Love But Hard to Raise because they all focus on connecting and supporting parents of children with invisible disabilities, mental illnesses, and brain-based special needs. Together, we are stronger, wiser, and hopefully a little more satisfied with this defining life experience of parenting kids who need more.
When my twin boys were first being diagnosed as toddlers a few years ago, I discovered my county support network, Parent to Parent of Whatcom County (P2P). Their free services include the emotional support of a trained Helping Parent whose parenting experiences match mine as closely as possible. They also offer hosted social and recreational events, current information on disabilities and medical conditions, and referrals to community resources.
The first essay I wrote about life as an ETL parent eventually appeared in my local P2P newsletter. A couple of years later, a different form of that essay now appears in our beloved Easy to Love But Hard to Raise. I feel as if my experience with P2P is coming full circle. Later this month, I will host a reading and support meeting for the group, the book is being considered for a new Parent Support Book Club they’re developing, and I’m considering becoming a Helping Parent myself.
A couple of weeks ago, our family attended a free P2P-only ice skating event. My boys had been asking for months to go for their first try, but I’d been avoiding it. I didn’t want to deal with public meltdowns and crowds of people that don’t understand us. But with P2P, our experience went far better than I expected, the kids had a positive first experience, and we were surrounded by people who “get it.”
Barbara Claypole White has blogged here before about whether or not to join a support group, and in the end, it’s a personal decision that has to work for you, in your circumstances, in your own life. For my family, P2P has been exactly what we needed. Barbara said it well when she wrote, “Finding the right group—or stumbling into it in my case—is a blessing. We may cry in the middle of sessions, but by the end we’re laughing. And if you can laugh at least once during a day of parenting an obsessive-compulsive child, you’re a momma who can keep on truckin’.”