A long, long time ago in a land far, far away.... ok.... 35 years and a few streets over..... I remember my mom going over to the neighbour's house in the morning and having coffee. "Coffee Klatching" or something like that is what we called it. All the moms were stay-at-home moms and there were a bazillion kids running around back then. I'm sure the moms laughed and cried and vented. The children in the neighbourhood always had to be on their best behaviour because everybody watched out for everybody else's kids. In other words, they wouldn't hesitate to tattle to our parents if they saw us cut across the neighbour's lawn!
I do believe something similar to those days goes on now at Panera Bread in Elk Grove, but I have something that comes even closer. Something special....
Every Saturday morning I wake up, cursing the fact that we signed up Sean for gymnastics at 8:30am, and try - usually unsuccessfully - to get Sean and myself out the door without waking the rest of the family. He's on a Special Olympics gymnastics team that is run out of the Elk Grove Gymnastics School (EGGS) a mile or so from the house.
EGGS is the reason I'm no longer a helicopter mom. As much as Sean has benefited from the program by way of strengthening and socializing and becoming more independent, I have benefited as well. And when I say helicopter mom, I mean BlackHawk, radar locked in, never out of reach. I was there!
Not knowing anybody or anything, and being newly diagnosed, we signed Sean up for what we thought was a class. The fact that he was now part of a team was a bonus. I remember the coaches and parents telling me that I would eventually leave Sean's side in the gym and graduate to letting him overnight with the team. All I could think of was, "No way!!!!"
The coaches are wonderful. The peer coaches - the high school kids that pull themselves out of bed every Saturday morning to help our children - are the best this generation has to offer.
I do leave Sean's side now. Sometimes I even leave the gym altogether and run an errand (O...M....G!!!!). The trust and care at the gym is boundless.
The parents remind me of the parents from my old neighbourhood. We care for each other's kids like they were our own. We cheer them on together. We feel their pain or frustration together. Much like our kids are a team, we parents are our own team. We vent, we laugh, we cry, we share stories and therapy suggestions. We have become the ultimate support group.
I knew when I walked into practice on Saturday morning and said, "Ugh, we have had the worst week," that not only would they understand, but chances were, someone else might have experienced the same thing. Turns out, state testing caused a few kids to be out of routine and be less than stellar in behaviour.
We may not have coffee or sit around the kitchen table. And certainly, we don't have a bazillion kids running around. But on Saturday mornings, when the rest of the world just doesn't understand what my life is like, I drag myself out of bed and go to practice.
Because it is there that I am amongst friends and that is the most comforting feeling of all.