*****Note: This post was originally published on October 7, 2010, on the former Dallas Moms Blog.*****
Connections make life rich. Each of us seeks to surround ourselves with people who have similar priorities and goals. Sometimes it is thanks to rather dire situations that we truly connect with others who change our lives forever.
Jenny McCarthy, while on tour for her new book, Love, Lust & Faking It, took time out of her schedule Wednesday night to have a drink with a local group of moms (and a few dads, grandmothers and sisters) following a book signing at the Lincoln Park Barnes & Noble in Dallas. Why? She graciously honored a connection that many local “Warrior Moms,” like me, have with her.
Let me be honest: Autism can be a very lonely place for families to journey. Especially in the beginning, after first receiving a diagnosis, many of us are so overwhelmed by responsibility (“I caused this” thoughts), shame (“I can’t control my own child” thoughts) and grief (“my child may never…make friends…have a meaningful, fulfilling job…get married…” and on and on kinds of thoughts) we don’t realize, (some of us for weeks, months or years) that we’re far, far from alone.
Jenny’s first book about her family’s personal journey with Autism, Louder Than Words, sparked some much-needed media interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and changed that “loneliness” for countless families battling ASD across the world. Jenny’s candid, heart-felt accounts of her son’s Autism and their family life in Louder Than Words garnered respect and attention from people from many walks of life. Her book tour talks with big hitters like Oprah and Larry King brought light and hope to many of us struggling with the Autism loneliness that sometimes clouds our wishes, thoughts and dreams.
When Jenny sat with Oprah on the Louder Than Words book tour and described her all-out-battle to recover Evan from Autism, Oprah graciously called her a “Warrior Mom.” From that day forward, women all over the world fighting for the health and well-being of their children living with ASD, had a new “team” name thanks to Jenny and thanks to Oprah! Jennifer Keefe, a DFW-area mom had connected with and a group of like-minded friends sharing their journeys with ASD and decided that very day to name their group “Warrior Moms” in honor of Jenny and her dedication to healing children living with illnesses associated with their ASD.
Jenny’s second Autism book, Healing and Preventing Autism, co-authored with Dr. Jerry Kartzinel, specifically addresses biomedical treatments for children with ASD, in my opinion pushed our “team” up another notch. This easy-to-read book continues to raise awareness with the general population and offers fundamental information on biomedical treatments to help Warrior Moms in the trenches. Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds, is a powerful tribute to the parents fighting to heal their children on a daily basis.
After my son Ethan’s Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis, I was quite fortunate to find like-minded local mothers fairly quickly. These mothers and I connected and continue to connect in ways that have truly changed my life. Over the past 4 years I’ve met several members of a group of moms who meet regularly (in person and online) to exchange ideas on biomedical treatments, thoughts about other ASD therapies and suggestions for gracefully living a life infused with ASD…these are true Warrior Moms. With these moms I feel connected.
These mothers “get” why I worry for my marriage and “get” my concerns about my son’s social and emotional well-being. They truly “get” why my son didn’t sleep in his own bed through the night until very recently. They “get” why Ethan is on a strict GFCF (Gluten-Free & Casein-Free) and low-sugar diet with 15+ daily supplements and medications. They “get” it all because they, too, LIVE with ASD 7 days a week 24 hours a day. But more powerful than that – these fellow Warrior Moms (and a few amazing Warrior Dads) “get” my drive and passion to read more, learn more, implement more and do MORE to make sure my son is as healthy (and happy) as possible and that the world he lives in will be more and more gracious and accommodating to his needs and differences as time passes.
We share such a bitter-sweet bond. Without Autism we Warrior Moms may have never met, but I send BIG thanks to God on a regular basis that we did meet. I simply wouldn’t be as strong of a mother, researcher, mommy-doctor/nurse/therapist and teacher as I am to Ethan without my fellow Warrior Parents – Jenny included!
So, while I was certainly star-struck by Jenny at Barnes & Noble and during her more private Warrior Mom Drinks/Q&A (she’s absolutely gorgeous and 100% authentic in person), I also felt right at home, comfortable and fully connected in a room of 50+ kindred spirits. Thank God that we are all in this together. Jenny accepted a toast in her honor by Jennifer Keefe and answered a few questions; some were related to cutting-edge technologies, some were personal questions about Evan and some were related to her plans for the future. Did you know that Jenny is going to have her own TV show next year? I’m eagerly anticipating the show and can tell you that Jenny has quite a nice fan base of Warrior Moms, certainly here in the DFW area, but I expect across the world!
In this journey, which I will admit still feels a little lonely every now and then, I thank God that I have my incredible Warrior-Mama friends to help guide me, focus me, lift me up and keep me positive and open-minded. I had a delightful night out with my fellow Warrior Mom (and Dad) friends: Amy, Arch, Erika, Gary, Jennifer, Jen, Julie, Laura, Laurel, Nagla, Nance, Sunny, Teri, Vicki and many others.
I also thank God for Jenny’s down-to-earth, unabashed passion and dedication to this worthy cause; she is a Rock Star Warrior Mom!
I am truly blessed by connections.