Last Sunday, I attended a tea for moms who have children with Down syndrome. It was cleverly called Tea21moms. It was a lovely affair: held at a Fairmont Hotel with a high tea service of dainty sandwiches, pastries and of course tea. The service was gracious, the room was beautiful and there were generous door prizes and warm hosting by Tamara Taggart (herself a mom of a son with Down syndrome).
It was fun to get dressed up. I knew a few moms who have older kids, like me, and we sat together at a table. It was wonderful to catch up with them.
At the back of my mind, I felt a wee bit guilty at not having helped to organize the tea. It was the brainchild of Danielle and Tamara L, both moms of younger kids. Life is less hectic now that Aaron is 16 and his health is stable (knock wood) – why didn’t I think of hosting an event? Why didn’t I at least volunteer?
I expressed that I wanted to help, and Danielle gently said to me – we just want you to come and enjoy yourself. In the end, I managed to convince her to allow me to donate a door prize from our company. It was this gorgeous Mama Bear pendant from local Vancouver company Pyrrha Jewelry.
The poem that goes along with the pendant said this:
This talisman features a bear, a symbol of motherhood and childbearing. It represents ferocity in the protection of one’s family.
Every single mom in that room was a ferocious protector of their family. To be truthful, it is really tiring to be a ferocious protector of one’s family. Even real mama bears need to hibernate. As I wrote about a few days ago, we all need a rest from being brave and strong. This tea was a little rest for me.
In my last post I also talked about how hard I find it to let people take care of me. I looked around at the Tea21 room at the glowing faces of all the moms there. They were relaxed, not having to chase around kids or worry about anybody except for themselves two whole hours on a Sunday afternoon. I settled back and let myself be served and celebrated. This in itself was glorious.
We all deserve to be taken care of. We are all worthy of being pampered. Having a kid with a disability adds an extra layer of complexity to our lives as mothers. There are health concerns, therapies, IEPs, struggles with schools, friendships and belonging for both our children and ourselves. It can be a lot.
The tea was a way to recognize us and to let us know we were valued. What a gift that afternoon was to me. Thank you Tamara and Danielle for your vision and hard work. Creating a space for moms to connect is brilliant. We all need each other, more than we even know. The ‘system’ might call this peer support, but I simply call this a gathering of friends who happen to be woven together by a precious third copy of the 21st chromosome.
(This type of celebration of moms does not have to be restricted to moms of kids with Down syndrome! Please be in touch with me if you are interested in how to organize a tea for your own community and I will connect you up).