Around four years ago now, I suggested to Joshua’s Special School that I set up a monthly Coffee morning for parents. As most of our children are transported to school by taxi or bus, we do not automatically have the opportunity to meet other parents at the school gates,as happens at mainstream schools. So the coffee morning was designed to be an opportunity to be a safe, friendly space where parents of children with special needs could share , or forget, their problems for one morning every month. Over the years many parents have come and gone, but there is now a core of parents who I consider to be friends as we know what is going on in each other’s lives and we are in contact , mainly on social media, in between coffee mornings.
All this time, I thought that I had set up the event to support other parents, to offer them a safe place once a month. I learnt yesterday that I need, and benefit from, that support too. I realised that, despite grieving, I wanted to see my friends and I needed to call upon their support. I wanted to show that I could still function, that I was able to bring homemade short bread, cheese straws, cheesecake and brownies to the table. In exchange, I asked for several hugs, which I received. They took their lead from me, so I had said that I would not wish to talk about Mum , but at one point yesterday we were talking about cremation and sharing ash-scattering stories. I was given the benefit of experience from other parents there who had lost their parents and I just felt surrounded by warmth and concern, which made me smile rather than cry.
As well as our coffee morning, school was welcoming new parents too, those whose children would be joining the school in September. I showed my face at their meeting and was introduced as someone who does ” amazing baking” every month and I donated some samples to their event. I would like to think that those new parents will also in time, benefit from the warmth of the group. I am hoping that this positive support group will continue long after Joshua and I have left the school next summer and if so, that would be a legacy that I would be very proud of. I was asked yesterday if I would come back sometimes when Joshua has left, to tell them about how life is beyond school and I joked that I could be an occasional guest speaker. Joshua is now the oldest pupil in that coffee morning group, so many of those with teenagers, are eager to see how we fare in the big bad world of Adult Services and hopefully they could learn from our mistakes or experiences. I had thought that I would leave them to continue on after next year, as it needs a new leader, but after the support that I received yesterday, I realised that I will want to continue to visit occasionally, as a guest, and rather than feeling awkward as I had feared, I think it will feel like a natural thing to do.