I loved Punky Brewster growing up.
So much so that I would wear a bandana tied around my knee and I wished my name was Soleil or Moon more than once. One particular episode remains emblazoned in my mind. The “Very Special Episode” surrounding the exclusive club, The Chiclets. Click HERE to see them in all their scrunch sock glory. You can watch the first minute or so to get the idea. The Chiclets were this “totally awesome” group of stylish sixth graders that Punky was dying to be a part of. Turns out that they are “like totally” into drugs. Specifically “grass, a few uppers, and some nose candy.” Pretty sure I had no clue what any of that was when I was eight years old. Of course, Punky decides that she does NOT need to be a Chiclet and that she is much better off following Nancy’s Reagan’s advice and creating a “Just Say No” club.
I may or may not have created a similar club with my best friend on the second grade playground that met over by the see saws.
Clubs. Secret societies. Exclusive groups with super cool people in them.
We have all wanted to be a part of one at some point in our lives.
As an adult I have realized that I have been thrust into several of these clubs without my permission. Hoodwinked you might say.
The sudden loss of a parent club
The parent of a child with special needs club
The multiple miscarriages club
I don’t think a super cool gal like Emily with her charm necklace and pastel sweater came up to me when I turned 30 and said, “Hey, Erin, wouldn’t it be great if you joined our club? You know, the one where all the members have lost a parent before they could become a grandparent to your children? Do you want to join the club where all the members have suffered more than one miscarriage?”
I think I would have remembered that.
So here I am. A member of several clubs. Ones I would never have asked for membership.
But something crazy has happened. The messy, beautiful person I am today, would not be nearly as messy, and nearly as beautiful if not for being a member of these clubs. And not just because of the circumstances that led to my membership. Not because I lost my father without warning almost 4 years ago. Not because I have lost two babies before I could even meet them and hold them in my arms. Not because I am the proud mother of a little boy with Williams Syndrome
Because of the INCREDIBLE club members I have been so privileged to meet. Because of the women who have become my friends. My sisters. My guides through this brutiful life. I would never have started blogging if it weren’t for my membership. I would never have met some of the most amazing women who I can reach out to any time of day or night and I know they will “get it.” I don’t have to explain what it feels like to wake up in a sweat because I dreamt about my father again. I don’t have to feel guilty when I message one of them to tell them I am feeling super overwhelmed by the prospect of Evan starting preschool with his school district peers.
I laugh with them. I cry with them. I spit nails of anger with them.
They somehow know me without needing to have been in my life for years and years. Some I have never even met in person. Some I did meet and it felt like they were a member of my Just Say No club on the playground in second grade.
I would never have met them if I had not gone through some of the most painful, difficult, and life changing events of my life.
Just this weekend I had the absolute privilege of attending a brunch for mothers of children with Williams Syndrome. It was like taking a deep breath of fresh air for 4 hours. I laughed, I cried, I listened and I shared. We have had Evan’s diagnosis for almost two years now, and there were some mothers with very newly diagnosed infants at home. I could see the fear, the pain, the hope in their eyes. And for once, I actually felt I could speak from experience and maybe even ease their worry a little.
Because of the pain, the struggle, the worry I have felt, I can support others who are going through similar experiences. One sweet mama told me that my blog actually helped her see a future for her daughter, helped her to see past the colicky, sleepless nights that are her everyday right now. Tears immediately came to my eyes.
There it was, the reason I started blogging. To help others who might need a voice, who might need to feel less alone. And to think that might actually be happening? Phew.
Thank goodness Emily in all her pastel scrunchy glory did not ask me to become a member of any of these clubs. Because I would have just said no.
(see what I did there?)
Sometimes we do not get asked. And we feel very angry about that.
Ahem….We meaning me of course……but maybe you are angry too? and that is more than okay, it is right and totally warranted. But I am just so glad that I can pull myself out of that murky angry place and realize that other women need to hear that it CAN be okay. You CAN lose a parent and wake up one day and realize it is not the first thing you think of. You CAN raise a child with special needs and see joy and beauty time and time again. Miscarriages do happen and they suck big time but you are NOT alone. There are so many women who have walked your path and would love to walk it with you. Or kick rocks. Or drink wine, whatever works.
I have plenty of women who did all of those things with me, and continue to.
I’m glad they are in my club. Maybe you are too?
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!