Let’s face facts, this parenting malarkey can be isolating at the best of times. As a mum of three boys, I was already totally outnumbered by the males of the species but on top of this, we are an Additional Educational Needs family which gives an extra level of complication.
It was hitting the point, that the only folks I actually spoke with regularly were my mum, my husband, my eldest son’s school or doctors and the pharmacist. Unfortunately, people didn’t see The Special Educational Needs, they just judged us and decided it was bad parenting resulting in naughty behaviour. I wasn’t strong enough to challenge them.
I was miserable! Very lonely and becoming increasingly introverted. I then happened across a post on Facebook by the Unmumsy Mum about an app she was involved with called Mummy Social.
Now admittedly I didn’t use the app in the way it was intended mainly because I’m a giant chicken and also because no matter what my boys’ needs do come first. However, instead of dismissing it as something that wouldn’t help me at all (because I couldn’t exactly have a ‘social life’) I found solace and friendships through the chat forums.
With so many mums finding things challenging and hitting their limits I actually found a purpose, I could help. Without sounding big headed I realised I knew stuff- because as an experienced mum you’ve encountered a lot more than you give yourself credit for. Yes, I can’t remember where my car keys are, heck, I’ve been known to lose a cup of coffee in my left hand, but I know how to soothe a refluxy baby, I’ve purchased enough nappies to know which ones are the best value and I’ve worked out the importance of self-care. Of course, I know how to follow my gut, how to be persistent when it comes to getting people to take my concerns about my kids seriously. We shared our highs, our lows, our funny or embarrassing moments too.
Mummy Social at its heart is more than an app, it’s a community. It gave me my confidence back. Having friends and people to talk to made feel like I could cope like I wasn’t ever alone because no mum should ever feel alone.
So here I am, nearly two years later. I’m now a mum with two boys with Additional Educational Needs and one Neurotypical. This possibly should have broken me but, no. I’ve re-found myself, ok not my pre-children self, a different self, a stronger more confident me. Mummy Social showed me I have value and I am more than capable. Being a parent doesn’t make you less of a person it makes you the very best person you can be especially when you have a team of Mummy Social friends right there with you.
A view of parenting a family with Additional Educational Needs by Jackie Sutherland.