I remember the first time I met her.
I was so alone, so isolated that I had turned to my social worker to find me some friends. "Please," I begged, "give my number to another parent like me so I can go have a drink with somebody who gets it."
Nobody gets it when your kid behaves like mine did. If your kid fell out of a tree and broke his leg, you could share that story with anybody. When my kid beat me up with a water bottle while I drove 60 miles per hour down the highway or when he attempted to jump right out of the truck--while it was moving-- , or the relief I felt when the doctors told me the cause was likely a serious mood disorder; those are things you can't share with anyone and everyone. Most people can't relate to that.
All our friends and family were so excited when we brought our boys home. Slowly, over time, most of our friends and family backed away or disappeared completely. Because when your kid comes home from his bike ride with someone else's bike and half his clothes missing and you have to call the Police to help calm him down--well let's just say the friends who were cooking out with us that day have never been back.
It's not their fault, either. I don't hold it against anyone. Everyone experienced losses during that time. It caused so much isolation for me. I was so very alone.
But my social worker....she heard that there was a meeting in my county. Some moms were getting together. That's where I met her.
She was so sure of herself. She carried a big tote bag full of binders of information. She was on committees and she knew all about how the county worked and how to get services for our kids. She was articulate and you could tell she had influence. But the thing that struck me most was that she was happy.
What the heck? It's possible to actually be happy again??
I knew I had to be her friend.
But, I could not muster the courage to sit in the coffee shop and say, "Would you be my friend?" So, instead I asked about her committee work. Maybe I could come to one of those meetings? She immediately jumped in her seat, "You can be on the committee!", she said.
I followed this woman all over the county.
She went to committees, I went to committees. She went to NAMI parent resource groups so I did too. She is my friend. She is like a sister. Our family's even celebrate Thanksgiving together every year. And you know what's even better than that?
She is only one of them. Now, our little group has grown into hundreds of parents who have joined us over the years. For every friend I lost, I have at least 10 more. And any one of them would take my 2 am phone call. They would celebrate my kid not losing his ID and they understand the grief of a normal life lost. They are Drama Mamas.
On Saturday there is a walk at Minnehaha Park to raise money for NAMI Minnesota. The organization that funded our little parent resource group. The same organization who now supports parents with 4 groups in Dakota County alone and one on one parent to parent support through the Experienced Parent Program.
If you're a parent, alone and afraid--you come down to the park on Saturday around 11. Look for the beautiful ladies dressed in black and hot pink. Join us for lunch and then we will walk with you--not just that day in the park, but forever. If you're a parent like I was--you don't walk alone anymore.
Parent to parent support changed my life. I don't know where I'd be without NAMI. You can donate and support our team--The Drama Mamas--here.
See you Saturday!