Dear mamas who have gone before me,
I know you are out there, hustling. Strong and brave as you forge the way for your child with different abilities. Each and every day you fight for your child to be seen, to be accepted, and included. You advocate hard, with kindness, for your child’s voice to be heard. I see you and want you to know that I am thankful for you.
I am thankful for the countless hours you have spent prepping for IEP’s, the hours spent working with your child through endless therapies, for fighting hard to get your child the care and attention they need, and showing the world your child is more than just a diagnosis.
The countless phone calls you have made, the meetings and appointments you have sat through, the pile of unending paperwork and the numerous tears you have shed are not for nothing even though I am sure if may feel that way some days.
I’m not very far into this journey with Bernadette. I take so much comfort in knowing that you mamas have been paving the way for us coming behind you. You mamas that are years ahead of us or maybe just a few steps, all of us hustling to make forward progress with our child and in the community around us.
There is strength in knowing that I do not walk this path alone, no matter how lonely or isolated it may feel sometimes. Knowing there are other mamas out there who just plain get it when things feel unexplainable. Mamas who know the constant feeling of being tired all day everyday and who now live on more caffeine than all of their college days combined. Mamas who get hard, accepted the challenge, and work together towards inclusion and what is best for each child.
It’s not easy, is it. And you all have been doing it much longer than I have. I can only begin to imagine the amount of blood, sweat, and tears you have shed. The countless days you have been left feeling discouraged, or the days you have wanted to pull the covers back over your head at the mere thought of having to fight one more day for your child’s voice to be heard.
There is beauty to be had in the hardship, at least that is what I am discovering a couple of years into this journey. The beauty of watching your child grow, their personality shining through, and their ability to change your entire perspective on life. The beauty that blossoms through the hardships when you see a glimpse of yourself and know full-well the strength that brought you to that very place you stand today.
There is so much joy that comes with knowing the hard work you are pouring into your child is well worth it. Celebrating the victories both big and small and the fullness that you experience every day from this child being an integral part of your family.
Keep on fighting, mamas. Keep on shouting their worth and advocating hard. You are seen by so many others. We are in the trenches right there with you, whether we know you personally or not. The work you are doing is helping to pave the way for the countless others steps behind you. Awareness is on the rise, slowly, but steadily because of you world changers. The unmistakable joy to be found in this journey is undeniable as I watch you and your families. This community pulling together to stand with arms linked to climb those mountains towering ahead is awe-inspiring. It starts small, with one foot in front of the other, even on the days it feels as if you have barely moved. It’s a process, one that will continue for years to come. It’s important work, and you my friend, are rocking it, one day at a time.
Us mamas who are coming up behind you are incredibly thankful for the hard work you are doing. Your deep love for child is evident and encouraging to us. Keep on forging ahead. You are seen and your work will not be forgotten.
With all the love,
The mama a couple of years in