Got a Diagnosis? Get a Community! It’s the best treatment out there . . . by Andrea Frazer
Heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.
I’m Week 3 into my 16 Week summer with my kids. You might say that time doesn’t matter and I’m making too much of this long.
To this I respond like many sober alcoholics respond when told that time away from the booze doesn’t matter: “Really? Try getting some!”
Lest you think I’m being snarky about your small, tiny, no big deal two month summer break, I realize that my kids are my responsibility. It’s not up to anyone else to entertain them, pay for camp or get them to read literature other than comic books featuring farting eggs and belching super heroes dressed in capes and tighty whiteys.
That said, thank God for community.
Yup, I’ll say it again. THANK GOD FOR COMMUNITY.
Without my arsenal of mamas willing to trade, cook, pick up and drop off my minions, I wouldn’t be able to work, let alone do rewrites on my book. Of course I do the same for them, not because I have to, but because that’s how relationships work. It’s a two-way street.
For some of you, community is part of your culture. Perhaps you live in a smaller town and it’s easy to know your neighbors. Perhaps you work closely with others on a farm or know people through your local church – the same church you’ve been attending since your youth. (If you’re my friend, Farmer Stacey, you have all three! I think that is amazing and I’m in awe.)
I, personally, live in Los Angeles. It’s easy to drive around town all day and not run into one person I know. That would work out well for me if I wasn’t more social than a butterfly on speed, but I crave interaction. I recharge when I am around others. Connection to others isn’t a matter of me being needy. It’s a matter of me feeling alive. It’s how I’m wired.
When my son was first diagnosed with Tourettes eight years ago, I was in a lot of fear. I was terrified that he would be laughed at. I worried that he would not have the same future as kids who didn’t shrug their shoulders and blink every thirty seconds. I thought I had to “fix” the tics so he could belong.
It turns out I couldn’t fix the tics. It also turned out he would belong anyway. The same mamas that to this day will pick up my son and take him to the movies picked up the phone eight years ago and let me cry into their ears about my concerns. It’s the same moms that I walk with on crisp summer mornings that would let me sit around their table during those first few grammar school years and remind me that my son’s soul was more important than a few throat clears.
I slowly folded new moms into my network… Moms that would walk with me spiritually. Some of these moms never even met my son, but they prayed for him. They would take my hand and remind me that he was created in our Father’s womb for a purpose. That he had a plan. That the tics would come and go, but God’s love would remain the same no matter what.
As for me, I’m far from a perfect mother, but I know what it’s like to be terrified of four-month summers. I know what it’s like to be afraid of scary diagnoses that have no cure. But I also know the value of strong women who circle the wagons when my mind is going in circles. And when I’m tired and scared, I stop what I’m doing. I pick up the phone. And I call one.
“Hi, it’s Andrea. I need a break. Can you help?”
Are you in need of community? Are you facing uncertainties with your child’s diagnosis, whether it be Tourettes, Autism, a learning disability or anything that you weren’t expecting? Please don’t be afraid to turn to your community of moms and ask for help. If you don’t have one, create one. This is no time for “I can’t, it’s not me.” A diagnosis is your gold sealed invitation to accept the party of life on life’s terms. Get dressed and show up. You might be scared, but I promise, you’ll meet some amazing people if you choose to attend RSVP “yes.” (Sure, it could be an epic fail, but what if it isn’t? What if you dance, laugh and trade some amazing stories? It could be the event of your life.)
Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll write up 10 tips that worked for me when I chose to participate in my own community building efforts. I’d love to hear yours, too.
You can find more of my writing during the week at Happily Ticked Off. You can also follow me on Twitter @Andreafrazerwrites.