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Connecting Over Coffee: Empowering Moms Through Shared Experiences and Hope

Connecting Over Coffee: Empowering Moms Through Shared Experiences and Hope
I just came from a coffee date with a wonderful mother who has a daughter like my Cooper.

The power of the internet brought us together.

She wants to change the world like I do. She wants to take away the stigma and the fear and educate like I do too.

Over coffee, we talked like old friends about our kids, our jobs, our goals, poop, behaviors, aggressions, medications, good schools, bad schools, the fear of puberty, self injuring…you know, all the things moms talk about when they find another mother who gets it.

Our Foundation at work
Lately, I’ve been having more and more of these conversations. I’m trying to be available to mothers who are at the beginning of the journey. Because I made it through. And they will too.

Maybe you are there yourself. Post diagnosis. Right in the thick of it. Trying to navigate schools, services and benefits.

Maybe you aren’t sleeping. Maybe you are losing your identity. Maybe you feel lost. A bit desperate. Scared and worried.

And you need someone to say…’hang on. You will make it through this and it will be great. Just hang on. You will figure it all out. I promise.’

These are the moms who are trying to find out who they are now. After. After a life changing diagnosis. A diagnosis that is not the end of the world. It’s just a detour. But they don’t know that yet. See, it takes time.

I try to be real with them. To use humor and honesty, and my reality to show how amazing this life can be 9 years in.
Kate and Family

Yeah. It’s not the life I imagined. My reality is nothing like my expectation was. But good golly it’s still life. We are still living and thriving. It’s just different than the one I imagined. And it’s ok. It’s amazing really.

I have a son who smiles and laughs and dances and every day is the best day of his life. He is learning and growing. Yes, we struggle. Of course we do. But who doesn’t.

See, my son lives in a world that doesn’t understand him. And a world that he doesn’t understand. It’s my job, and your job as parents, to bridge the gap in between.

In everyone one of my conversations with moms like me, near the end, we talk about the ‘breakdown.’ That moment where it all comes to a head. The time where we felt the most helpless. Scared. Alone. And the weight of the forever diagnosis felt almost unbearable.

We talk about therapy and medication and support systems. And how vital it is for moms to value their own mental health.
See, my lowest point happened to be very public. And in a car. I cried. It brought tens of thousands of people together. And it made a few angry too.

That was my lowest point. That was the night I stayed up all night and cried because I couldn’t make my son talk or interact or make a friend or drive a car or get married. I thought about who would care for him after I was dead. It destroyed me. Because it was out of my hands.

The day after I started to heal. I realized I couldn’t change what was happening, but I could change my attitude. And my purpose. I could use my voice to make real change for my son, and others like him too.

I want other parents to know that too. Fear, worry, anger, even anxiety about the future…these are very real emotions. Acknowledge them. Find other parents who understand and start talking.

Heal.

And then change the world for your kids. Advocate. Speak up and out. And find the joy whenever you can.

A diagnosis isn’t the end. It’s just a path in a different direction. I promise.

Thank you for being here with us.

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook.

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