I am no stranger to having someone very close to me have special needs. Growing up, my mother had paranoid schizophrenia. That childhood came with many demands that are almost unfathomable. I learned very young, that my life was different and that no one else understood. In order to seem normal, I had to work very hard to get what I needed and fake being “ok”. While my mother was very warm and loving when she was "with us", I couldn’t run away fast enough. I took off immediately after graduating high school. I put myself through college and grad school on my own dime (and loans) while working full time through both, managed multiple city moves, and developed a career I am proud of. I had worked so hard to build a “normal life”.
In 2010, Ian, my oldest son, was born. He was a beautiful, happy baby. Eventually, things got quite intense and he was eventually diagnosed with autism. My new normal world was shattered. He had autism; he was sick. I thrust myself into research and thrust him into interventions. The equipment, tools, special foods, and routines in our home were far from normal. The work was immeasurable. I continued daily to go to work and fake being ok. No one understood. Coworker lunch invitations slowed. Friend invitations slowed. It was lonely. Still my husband and I worked hard; Ian worked hard. Years of appointments, therapeutic schooling, therapies, and medical intervention fortunately yielded quite promising results for Ian. Unfortunately, the results for me were not so promising. I had traded my health for his.
Then I found Steel Magnolia Moms. I met so many other families with many different disabilities; yet we are all the same. There is a common bond that we share that many will never understand, but I now know many more people that do.
At 9, Ian is doing extremely well. He goes to school, does homework, and plays with his 7 year old brother, Patrick. They have a very strong brotherly bond and play as boys do. At night we walk through the dark over nerf gun darts and legos and fall into bed exhausted. Honestly, it is the best feeling, and I would make the same choices all over again.
There are so many reasons I want to run the Ragnar race with my fellow Steel Magnolias. First, I want to stop running from my life challenges and trying to find normal. I want to run toward my challenges and see the beauty that comes with them. I want to run for and with my sisters on this journey. I want to run for Ian. But mostly I want to run for myself.
Money raised in this campaign will go to Steel Magnolia Moms so that other moms like me can find their support group and feel part of a community -- feel normal.