That's me, in 2005, driving topless (convertible top down) and taking The Mothers From Hell on a photo-op ride through the parking lot of our fave Mexican restaurant. Note the queenly waves, and Dara, middle back, who showed up in her wedding dress from 20 years past.
Except for a sprinkling of stolen lunch hours here and there, seems too long since I'd communed with any of my tribes. A long school year. Scheduling conflicts. Childcare issues. Alas, one of the gifts of the more relaxed Season of Summer. Time to meet and catch up with friends.
This week I've gathered with two groups. One, a group of "typically developing moms." That's code in disAbility language for mothers of children who are "typically developing." I had no idea when I replied to a newspaper ad to become a blogger for a new mom's website by our main daily newspaper that I'd end up making friends. Social media was new to me -- and this was before Obama became a household word -- in part by capitalizing on The New Wave. (I didn't get the blog post and the bloggers have been let go -- no commentary on their writing or work -- but I became first a Special Needs Forum moderator and now after a staff reduction, one of only four remaining moderators for the site.)
In some ways my life today with a special needs teen doesn't have much in common with most of the women I've met through this site, which is predominantly mothers of typically developing kids. But, as I tell parents gathered at the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee's bi-monthly Autism Orientations I co-lead, it's important to make friends outside of one's Special Needs Tribe. I've found that friends like those I've made through MomsLikeMe.com help balance my life and lend it a pinch of levity. I Choose a Life that's not all about disAbility! My relationship with these mostly young mothers of young children has also served as a fabulous awareness tool for disAbility. A bridge for understanding that I am confident, that in many cases, will transfer into teaching their offspring compassion for the differently abled.
The "typical" moms and I sat outside on a warm Tuesday night in early June and licked mile-high ice cream cones and slurped thick milkshakes. But the raucous party was the next night in a Turkish restaurant in a nearby part of town. The women there bore tiara's, swilled alcohol-laced concoctions and laughed wildly. This tribe was/is "The Mothers From Hell." So named by it's creative northwestern U.S. founder, writer Elizabeth Gerlach* because it's said that when we approach the IEP (Individual Education Planning) table, the educators there are whispering: "There comes that 'Mother from Hell.'"
I was christened into this mothering tribe very early into my disAbility pilgrimage. Our local chapter's by invitation only. Someone knew I would not blush at the profanity nor was I truly a banshee advocate for my child. Like my peers, I am an advocate who knows that more flies are caught with honey than vinegar. But, when we get together, don those tiaras, all hell breaks loose cause then it's just us mothers...from Hell. Moms that know the catharsis of rounding up one's tribe and lettin' 'er rip.
*6.6.09 Update: Elizabeth has since informed me that she was one of the original MFH's, not the founder.