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Find Your Tribe

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

With the holiday season upon us, I have been reflecting on how grateful and appreciative I am of the special needs community that exists around me, consisting of my family and friends, special needs parents, educators, therapists and believers.

This is my tribe. They answer my texts no matter when I send them or what they are about. We laugh, we cry. They help me see a future for my son that I can’t envision yet. They help me focus on the positives and celebrate wholeheartedly with me during the good times. They help me weather the bad times and remind me that “this too shall pass”.

My wish for every special needs mom is to find her tribe. It may take time. It took me years. I think back with such sadness and sympathy for the mom that I was six or seven years ago, stumbling through this new world of diagnoses, evaluations and therapies, wondering if anything I was doing was right, afraid of not being enough for my son and for my family.

For the longest time, I kept it all inside. I put on my brave face for those closest to me, not letting them help me carry the weight. I isolated myself because I didn’t know what I needed from others. I just knew they couldn’t help my son, and so they couldn’t help me. But as I began to talk about my experience and what our family was going through, my slowly growing circle did in fact help me. It’s true that my friends and family could not take away my son’s diagnosis. They could not make him talker sooner, or alleviate his sensory challenges. They could, however, make it all easier for me to carry. The more I opened up, the more I realized that what I needed was for people to understand, and as long as I kept it all inside, they would never have the chance to understand.

So I began talking about Shane, and posting about Shane and bringing Shane out to events and family gatherings. I needed people to see him and see us, so they could understand.

The love and support of my tribe and their cheerleading have helped to hold me up. They have been my mirror, reflecting back the strong, perseverant woman that they see. For so many of us, we have this strength deep inside that we don’t know is there until someone tells us they see it, and that helps us believe in it as well. This is what my tribe has meant to me and it has been everything.

So this holiday season, I am grateful for my tribe (you all know who you are) and I wish for anyone out there who is starting this journey or somewhere along the path, that you too, find your tribe, whoever it may be. You don’t need to do this alone.

Some, but not all, of my tribe.

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