This is a blog post about blogging. I guess it is a post about more than blogging. It is a post about opening myself up, reaching out and finding others with like experiences and shared fears. It is a post about finding a community. It is a post about finding those who care. A few weeks ago, I wrote about my fears for my daughter, as she grows up as a sibling of a child with special needs. Although my daughter Molly, at age 7, loves her little brother unconditionally and with every bit of her heart, I know all too well the struggles that go along with such an incredible role to play in a family. I had never read many pieces about how much a sibling (or siblings) is affected by the time, energy and love that must be given by parents to the child with special needs. So I decided to write about my daughter and her own struggles and triumphs as Brady's sister.
Then, something incredible happened.
I started receiving messages, comments, tweets, likes and shares...from all over the country. So many Facebook shares that I topped 1,000. I was in shock and elated all at once. My small voice and my families' journeys were being shared all over. Websites that I had never heard of, started sharing my son's story....my story. Comments started pouring in and I was reading other mother's stories. Stories that sounded like mine. Experiences that broke my heart because I knew the pain and fear. Siblings who had hearts so big they reminded me of my own amazing Molly. Journeys with little fighters who are strong, who defy odds and who believe that anything is possible, just like my own incredible warrior. Just like my Brady. Facebook friend requests would pop up from names I didn't recognize, but when I clicked on their profiles, I knew immediately they were a kindred spirit. I was finding a community I didn't even know existed. I was becoming part of an extraordinary group of parents. I was becoming part of a group I didn't know I needed to be in, but I did. I had become a part of the special needs community. I was helping give my son a voice. I continue to hope there is another mother looking for the same answers I continue to research and look for each and every day.
We all look for support and encouragement when we experience difficult moments. There are support groups for everything. I know there are many ways I could express my emotions, my fear, my experiences and even my triumphs. I have chosen writing. Writing has led to introductions of parent groups, of informative websites and Facebook pages started and run by mothers who know first-hand my incredible challenges, but also the remarkable miracles that come along with raising a child with special needs. There are days, when I feel very alone. There are days, when I spend time with a typical developing child, and I feel sad. There are days when I feel like no one, except my husband, knows how hard the days with Brady can be and how scary and uncertain our son's future seems. But I know we are not alone. I know there are so many families who are just like us. I know there are parents who are facing much greater challenges. I know that I am finding strength in mothers whose experiences are similar and who share their strength through their words, their pictures and their faith.
I know there are so many people who are pulling for my little boy and his parents. Blogging for a local community site has also allowed me to reach out and share my family's journey with those around me. At restaurants and community events, so many people know my precious Brady. People ask about him, with genuine concern and care. Neighbors, friends and others in the community celebrate Brady's accomplishments and enjoy seeing him smile and laugh. Strangers stop me and tell me they cry when they read my stories of Brady's little miracles and big accomplishments. They celebrate my daughter's love for her brother and my husband's strength as a father. They all tell me they believe in my son and would love to hear his voice fill a room someday. They support us and revive my faith in the power of community and compassion.
Several months ago, I submitted my first blog post to the Patch. I wanted to see how it would feel to put onto paper, all the words and stories about my son that were swirling around in my head. I wanted to try and see how it would feel to be open and honest about being a parent of a child with special needs. I wanted to see if anyone would be interested in our journey...in Brady's journey. I never imagined how many people would embrace my son, my family and our journey. I never imagined over a 1,000 people would hit recommend and share our story. I never imagined that moms and dads from Kansas, Florida, Boston, and even Canada, would reach out and tell me they understood my fears, they celebrated my son's milestones, they cried over lost moments and smiled looking at my son's glowing face. Through all these likes, tweets, comments and recommendations, I have learned that by opening myself up and allowing others to understand, even a little bit, about the challenges and triumphs of raising a child with special needs, I have found an amazing amount of faith, by sharing with others.
If you would like to read the post that sent us over 1000, please click on Don't Forget About Me...Being a Special Needs Sibling.