Julia Grace and I are taking a child development class at a local parenting center. Today was our second class and our teacher asked each of us what we were celebrating this week. The thing that reverberated with joy throughout my entire body was that we found out yesterday that Julia’s beloved friend who has one of my favorite mamas in the world had a negative bone marrow biopsy. When her mama told me the good news I held Julia Grace and we danced and cried and celebrated with them like she was our own family because this community of friends has become like a family to us.

This is what I find the most stark about being a mom of a child with special needs and about being so steeped in this community. I don’t know if any of the women in that classroom has been touched by tragedy or if they’ve seen their friends undergo horrific loss or illness, maybe they have. But for us it’s a sadly common occurrence. I can count six littles in our community that we’ve lost in the brief time I’ve been part of it. I’ve only counted one mama among our close friends but every loss hits us like a ton of bricks. We are a community, one big family, and we celebrate and mourn and hold each other up and cheer each other on at every turn. We hold our breaths with the parents of those going through medical challenges. We sigh with relief when we get good news. We offer support and encouragement when we get bad news.

This is such a weird change of perspective because I expected to feel isolated because Julia Grace is the oldest baby and she’s one of the only ones not crawling. Frankly, even as I type that it seems silly. She will get to those things in her own time. But, sitting there trying to think of something, anything else to say besides that I was singing with joy that a child doesn’t have cancer, made me feel a million miles from everyone else in that room. In our video, Why be Normal, I committed to showing Julia Grace how to be a badass and according to Brene Brown, “people who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”  So next time, I will tell my truth and celebrate the joys of my community. Excuse me, the joys of my family.