Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pay it Forward

When I read a post by Drama Mama last night, it got me thinking, and it hasn't let my mind all through my busy back-to-school day.

Drama Mama is among what I think of as my "imaginary friends" -- those bloggers I read and relate to with intensity enough that I feel like we are confidantes even though they may never have come across my blog or heard so much as a mention of my name. Without knowing it, Drama gives me hope, because she is where I want to be, a place I think of as "the other side." (No, I'm not referring to that kind of afterlife, just to life after the hardest part of special needs parenting struggles.) Both Drama's daughters are strong and amazing, and with her they form a triumvirate that have proven they can tackle anything, isms or no. Now that Drama is feeling like Drama, she wants to reach out and lend a hand to friend who, like me, remains more in the thick of things, still struggling to cobble together the tools, resources, inspirations, motivations, educations, inner strength, mental fortitude, physical stamina, chutzpah, whatever it takes, to help her child.

Drama Mama wants to help, but she isn't sure what to do. And that got me thinking.

I almost posted a comment, but I had too much to say. So I thought about it all day. I thought about how badly I want to rally, I want to get myself together, to help my child, to get us to that happy place, to make it across to where Drama and her family stand, and then I, too, will find others in the place where I am now, and I will help them.

How? What do they need? That is Drama's question. Since I am still pretty rooted, still where her friend seems to be, I can offer the following suggestions from my standpoint to Drama and anyone else wanting to lend a hand to someone who seems overwhelmed trying to help a child succeed. (And, NO, I am not hint dropping. I actually completely suck at accepting kindnesses, and I much prefer giving gifts to receiving them, so, please, no one indulge me in the following):

* A Coupon Book: Know those cutesy ones you can give your sweetie that offer a back rub on demand or a romantic dinner for two? A friend who is overwhelmed would welcome coupons for a free pass for a late night call just to listen as she vents, or an hour watching her child while she either gets out of the house or soaks in the tub.
* Humor: Send her one funny email every day for a week. Or better, love bomb her with two or three every day for a month. You can never laugh enough.
* Inclusion: Figure out an event where you feel pretty certain your friend and her child can feel welcome and included, then invite her. It can be a special needs meetup, a barbecue in your backyard, or a drive-in theatre -- whatever works for them that you suss out. She's probably struggling to find places like that, and more pressing matters probably are taking priority over having fun, so to be invited out to do something that's a good fit without having to do all the legwork is a huge gift. Just make sure you really do your homework first.
* Remind her of what's working: I often forget when things stink just how much worse they were a while ago. Make a list of the successes your friend and her child have had over time and tell her how impressed you are with what they have accomplished.
* Remind her that you have been there, too. Tell her about some of your darkest times from long ago and some of your brightest spots from the here and now. Let her know that you believe in her, and that you look forward to the day you can celebrate with her, when she and her family too join you "on the other side."


Drama Mama said...

Oh my new good friend Rooster Mama.

These are the answers that I was praying for. Thank you. THANK YOU.

I plan on email bombing some friends, and today, I got the idea to do one of my fabulous tea parties (with pink champagne, mais non)...but the kicker? My fabulous student babysitter who is FUN and AWESOME and also ASD will watch the kiddies in the yard whilst the mommies nosh and sip.

I applaud and thank you for taking up the cause, and sister, if you are ever in my area, we are going for pedis. On me.

Anonymous said...

oh this is fabulous. ain't this little village grand?? and drama, oh drama .. don't get me started. i'll gush for days and make us all uncomfortable.

i do hope someone nearby completely disregards your entreaty and actually does one or all of these things for you. one of the hardest parts of this gig is knowing when to TAKE the help. but damn if we don't all NEED it.

aw, hell .. i'm gonna go find a funny e-mail right this second.