Eight years ago I gave birth to a baby girl with Down syndrome. At the time, I was a scared mom unsure of what my daughter’s diagnosis would mean for our family. I imagined the hard things, but I did not know at the time that many blessings would come to us -to me – from having the children that I have. Like the sisterhood that came from being a part of this community.
It’s no secret, women need sisters. Friends who come along your side and do life with you. Friends who not only understand your life, but live it too. Women who look at you in the eye and let you know you are not alone, who fill you up with courage and gumption and help you believe in yourself.
And this is what I found: the sisterhood of the special needs mamas.
These are the friends who identify with my pain, my grief, my joys, my celebrations.
It is not uncommon to meet a stranger to find out you both have children with disabilities and feel an invisible bond reach out from the deep places and form a connection. Suddenly she’s not a stranger anymore, she’s a sister.
I first met my sisters through the book Gifts: Mother’s Reflect on How Children With Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives. There were so many negative voices coming at me from medical professionals about what our life with our baby would be like. But these sisters – these women – gave me a different picture of what my life would be like. They fueled my heart with dreams and hopes and love.
When I met two of them in person and Nichole was only a few months old, they were already my sisters. We talk on the phone, connect through Facebook, visit whenever we get a chance, Skype, or go on trips together for a writer’s conference.
And there are the sisters who took me in as a scared mama and welcomed me with all my fears and questions and tears. And they took me in and invited me to be a part of something big, because they already knew a sisterhood can change the world for our kids for the better.
This sisterhood is made up of strong, courageous, selfless women from whom I continue to learn from and women who help me grow.
No, we do not have it all together, and most of us find this sisterhood on-line because those face-to-face connections don’t happen often. Yet this sisterhood is as strong and fierce and real as if we were neighbors. And what we do is reach out to each other and hold on tight because sometimes this parenting kids with disabilities is hard, and we know we cannot get through it alone. This is when we need each other, this is when we cling to each other and build a net of safety. A place where we can share freely, encourage each other, and remind each other we are not alone.
We share our hearts, we cry together, we ask for prayer, we support each other.
And if you ask us what is one of the greatest blessings that has come from the children we have, we will tell you this: the sisterhood.
The beautiful women whom I am honored and blessed to call my sisters.
So special needs mama, if you feel alone and like you’re barely holding on, remember us – your sisters. You are not alone.
Connect with us on Facebook, and if you are looking for a sisterhood, you will find us there.
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