Our Time Out Mothers’ Group
Our Time Out
Women involved in the lives of children with special needs have been coming together through the “Our Time Out” Mother’s Group since 1999. This grass roots, independent group has caught the interest of mothers, grandmothers, and sisters who all share a very special bond of raising a child with a disability. The focus of the group is to take time out from our busy schedules to connect and share thoughts and ideas with other mothers in a positive, supportive environment. Friendships have been created, laughter shared, and even some tears have found their way to the conversations. One mom shared, “When I leave the mom’s group meetings, I leave smiling, knowing I did something positive for myself, knowing that there is a group of women, who just simply, understand.”
A Few Perspectives on Parent-Parent Support
Judy Lee: Our Time Out member since 1999
Just making the connection with other parents who know what it’s like to raise a child with special needs. It’s just, I’m seeking understanding from other people and I think, they know, they go through similar emotional ups and downs. They are aware of some of the physical demands of raising a child with special needs and I think even more importantly, it’s nice to have a group to go to that understands the joys of a child with special needs and that’s not something you find too much in the general population, unless you’ve had a child…you know, other people don’t sometimes recognize the joy and the chance to see the little miracles and that’s what I like because I can come and share those and these moms and families get it. Everyone, every week has a little triumph to talk about or a set back that they are seeking information for. So I think, you know…every week we just share our stories. It just touches you and you relate to it, and you keep coming back for more because it fulfills that need.
I’ve met several different families that I’ve connected with and that has just helped with the journey, and your not alone and it’s just nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of or to just share that journey.
I know a lot of families are sometimes hesitant and different people are different places at different times, and sometimes you think it’s a support group or that it’s going to be sad or everyone is just going to be down, but for the most part it’s not like that at all. Sure, there are things that are medical issues, but for the most part it’s just encouraging and it’s uplifting, it’s a time to enjoy our kids and enjoy talking about them.
Lisa Welch: Our Time Out member since 2008
It’s extremely important and I don’t think it’s just for moms. It’s for dads and caregivers, whether they be grandparents. It’s important for people to know that there are other people out there that can help you through a rough patch, or can celebrate with you, and that not everything has to be a pity party. You can go and have fun and talk to other people about whatever is happening in your life, and like I said, it’s rejuvenating to hear good stories from other people if your having a down day as well as I’m sure there someone else in the group that has had a down day and I may be helping to lift them up a little bit.
When we sit around and everyone shares something good that happened in the last month, that’s something that Robin facilitates during the meeting and it’s your choice if you want to share something good or bad and we all choose to share something good instead of something bad that happened in the last month. It’s good to hear everyone’s good stories instead of, “oh this happened” or “oh that happened”. It’s, “my kid is doing this now” or “this is new from last month” and “we made it past this milestone”. So it’s encouraging and it’s nice to hear the good stories.
It’s a diverse group of women and everyone has something powerful to say about their own family dynamic and it’s a great message to hear. Not only that, but you can also share yours so it’s a give and take situation. It’s not just one person sitting and trying to soak everything in, but you can also voice your own issue or your own triumph as well and that’s really important that everyone gets their own turn to speak, and in my opinion, every mom needs a little time out. So I always encourage my friends, “you should come, it’s a great group, it’s fun.”
Lisa Weaver: Our Time Out member since 1999
Meeting with new moms is just…the whole support of it all…being with people who understand what I’m going through and I understand what they are going through with a child with special needs. We discuss different aspects of it, kind of networking sort of thing. We’ve learned…I’ve learned so much from the groups. It’s like you go there, “have you heard of this chair or this program?” and others are like, “no, I haven’t but did you know you could get these?” So, that’s really helped me because when you have a child, there’s not a lot of information when you have a child with special needs. Especially when you start with one at birth. Nobody tells you the different resources. So, especially with new moms coming in and moms that have been there a while…we can provide them information that they wouldn’t get otherwise and the support. It’s just been a rewarding experience. I really have enjoyed it. We all have the same issues: feeding tubes, pumps, dealing with the school districts, dealing with nursing, all of that. So I come for camaraderie, just to talk and also just to get away. It’s nice because we meet at a restaurant and we hang out and just enjoy each other’s company. We all are in the same boat so we know that this is a huge thing for us to be out and have some time to ourselves. It’s just nice to have the other women to talk to and that have been through it all as well.
It seems like I get something out of every time I come…different people too. Really it’s like every visit, every time I go to one of the meetings I get something out of it. It could be different every time but there hasn’t been a certain ball breaking, this is the best thing ever night but there have been a lot of really good nights. I don’t know how to explain that, but it’s just really neat. I really enjoy, I look forward…the whole month I look forward to coming to the mom’s group. It’s a great place to meet people who understand.
A lot of our children have been in and out of hospitals a lot and the stress and everything… I don’t think a family who hasn’t been through it would understand what all that means. Having your child almost dying numerous times and having other families understand that, other moms that understand what you are going through and I think it helps having somebody who knows…been there, done that kind of thing…. Can learn a lot from the group. I’ve told a lot of moms about it, “you know you have to come to this group because its just, the people are amazing, you’ll learn so much and it’s just so nice to get away.” I think it’s actually essential for healing. It’s pretty traumatic to have a child…my daughter has a birth trauma and it’s very traumatic. It’s very healing to have, to be able to talk to someone else. It’s an awesome group. I think they should have them all over.
Karen Diffley: Our Time Out member since 2005
My first meeting, I came and we had just found out about Ian’s issues and we were contemplating going through with the adoption and I was just completely lost. I went to the meeting, met Jaime who had adopted and in talking with her it was almost like, Wow I can do this, instead of total devastation, what am I going do, what’s just happened in my life. That’s how I came into the meeting, just in a fog you know, you’re just…with your head spinning, to talking to Jaime and she is like, “Yeah, we did it. It’s not easy but it so worth it and you can do it and we’ll all be here to help you.” It was Jaime because of her adoption experience, but it was everyone because of their knowledge and their support and it was just like this big hug around me that you can do it. I left there saying, we’re doing it. I can do it. Let’s go. It was a huge moment in my life.
I don’t think of it as a support group, necessarily, you know the old way of thinking of a support group. Now that I’m in the mix, it’s just my good friends that I can relate to more so than my outside friends who have typical kids. We can talk about anything and they understand or they’ve been there. It’s an amazing connection. I always learn something. I always go away with at least one thing that is like, “Aha! That’s what I needed.” But I also try to share my experiences so that someone else can hopefully learn. I really rely on the parents, moms that have gone through it already. I’m always asking questions.
Kristin Wright: Our Time Out member since 1999
I got into the group because I was in the infant program with SCOE, Sacramento County Office of Education and at the time we were doing a lot of parent training and trying to connect as parents in the infant program. I met a woman who decided that she had a great idea that she was going to start this group of parents who could come together in a positive way versus…it wasn’t going to be a place where you come and complain, but you try to look at the positives. You just had a time out and you got away from your other life and you just were a person having dinner and talking to other people that understood your journey. I don’t necessarily view it as a support group, I guess…is why I participated in it because I think if I viewed it as a support group it would annoy me and I don’t think I would necessarily want to go to something that I thought was a support group. Maybe earlier on I did, but the nature of getting support from people without having to label it a support group was beneficial just because I didn’t want to go and talk about my feelings but I wanted to go and hang out with people who understood where I was. I think there’s a difference so I think for people who I’ve talked to…who I’ve even invited to this group, have said, “you know what, I’m tired of talking about how I feel about everything, and I’m sad, and I thought I was getting on a plane, and all that stuff” but they didn’t want to come because they didn’t want to talk about their feelings. I said we don’t really talk about feelings. We talk about something good that happened and then we just talk. Sometimes we talk about things with special ed and sometimes we don’t. It’s just a lot of different things going on, but it is a place to share ideas and find out information. That’s not the purpose, but it is the purpose and so it’s all wrapped up in just having dinner with people. You don’t ever have to go and so it’s one of those things that you choose to do and I think with so many things that you don’t choose, it’s nice to know that you have the choice to do that if you want to. That’s one of the reasons that I go, because I don’t want anyone telling me what I have to do. So if I choose to go, then I do.
I guess I’m just seeking similarities and I’m looking for people that I don’t have to explain things to. It’s also a place, because the people have been coming for a really long time, so we’ve sort of all watched each others kids grow up, so it’s kind of a check in. It’s kind of a “where are you at now?” “Oh this is a new thing, has anyone heard of this?” So I go to check in with some people who are just filtered out in the community that I have this commonality with also to just go have dinner and hang out and not be around kids for a little while. I guess it’s more about the people and who I perceive as going to the group and what my attraction to the group would be, that they’re in a constant state of movement in terms of what they are trying to learn, what they are trying to absorb and what they’re trying to do for their kids and so I guess I have a lot of respect for all of them.
I would tell other parents about coming to the group that if you wanted to go somewhere where you could feel like you could get hope, it would be somewhere you could go to get hope.
“When I leave the Mom’s Group Meetings I leave smiling, knowing I did something positive for myself, knowing that there is a group of women who just simply…understand.”