Mothers’ Groups are an Australian institution, but one that can cause mixed feelings amongst those of us whose children turn out not to fit the ‘norm.’
I’m going out to see the Old Trolls tonight, and I can’t wait. Our monthly get-togethers are the highlight of my scintillating* social life.
You see, the Old Trolls** is my mothers’ group, the contemporaries whose kids are like my kid, whose lives were turned topsy turvy like mine was, who now share the experience of parenting a teenager on the autism spectrum.
These aren’t the girls I met when Tom was a baby but the ones who did early intervention programs when we did. It’s very bonding to have friendships formed in those kinds of emotional fires.
In the past, I had often felt left out of the Mothers’ Group phenomenom. We weren’t in Australia when Tom was born, so I never did have that traditional mothers’ group.
But maybe it was better not to.
I have met many mums who’ve been distressed to watch their kids’ development fall further and further behind their little contemporaries. And some kids’ behaviour was so disruptive that getting together with the other mums was a nightmare.
Some whose mothers’ groups just didn’t understand and weren’t supportive, even when the dreaded diagnosis was made. Then too, some of my Aussie friends have been really fortunate and forged lifelong friendships in their mothers’ groups.
One of the Old Trolls talked about going to her “Normal Mothers’ Group.’ That really makes me laugh, just like one of my twin mum friends who goes to what she calls her ‘Single Mothers’ Group.”
Anyway, we Old Trolls met around ten years ago when our boys (and ours are all boys surprisingly) were three/four years old. We’ve been through many, many things together over the year: learning to sign, talk, gesture; learning patience, perseverance and the art of preschool playdates.
And we’ve gone through all the big stuff together too: toilet training, starting school, and high school. We’ve been there for each other through the worst of times; illness, divorce, the diagnosis of other children, the death of parents.
And, you know what, there’s a lot more to go through yet. So our now fixed-in-stone monthly meetings remain vital, who else could fully grasp the concerns we have; over puberty, teenage crushes, drugs and alcohol, as well as the ever-present speech therapy and school issues.
And who else could laugh about it?
Sometimes we mums just need to have a good old laugh about our odd lives, and ours is the kind of black humour best kept to ourselves. We’ve been known to describe our group as the ‘Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em” club, the ‘Weird Kids Club’, and sometimes we refer to ourselves as the ‘Reluctant Grade A Parents.’
We can sometimes shriek with laughter, sometimes cry. We look after each other and we look after ourselves these days; sometimes we have a day out of pampering, shopping, often we drink too much wine when together.
So here’s to the friends we make along out ASD journey. Thank goodness we have them, lets keep them close.
* actually, not that scintillating, to be honest.
** why Old Trolls? Well we all met at a parent group called Learning to Learn, so called our egroup OldL2L, mis-seen by one of us as Old Trolls- perfect name for us!