Parenting, despite its wonderfulness, can amount to an intimidating and confusing responsibility, and every parent profits from a little support at times. Organizations such as the Lake Highlands Area Early Childhood PTA make it easy for mothers of young children to connect with mentor moms able to advise — based on experience — on the ins and outs of raising children.
Mother of two (with one on the way), Molly Fawkes took advantage of the LHAECPTA playgroups and enjoyed the camaraderie of other moms, but she went through things with her son, Thomas, to which many of the other parents could not relate.
“Without getting too specific, Thomas was born with a syndrome based on genetic makeup. At a young age, he was hospitalized and had to undergo open heart surgery,” Fawkes says. “It was sometimes overwhelming … there weren’t many other parents who were regularly having to see neurologists, you know.”
Fortunately, she ran into Ladonna Denslow. Denslow’s child, who was about the same age as Thomas, was also experiencing developmental delays. Although the boys were dealing with different issues, the women found that they shared many similar ordeals and feelings.
It was comforting to find a friend who was dealing with many of the same things, Fawkes says. The women figured there were probably other moms out there in similar situations who might be needlessly feeling alone.
“We wanted to open up a group to parents centered around the commonality of — how did Ladonna put it? — having a ‘one-of-a-kind kid in therapy.’”
The women sent out an email invite to the “Square Pegs” club, and shortly received 11 responses.
Fawkes and Denslow formed an online discussion and support group, and set up regular meetings among the parents and, on alternating months, family events that would include the kids.
Lynn Daniel, who initially joined Square Pegs because her 4-year-old son had sensory issues, says she found not only moral support, but also garnered viable information about navigating the Richardson school system in order to meet her family’s needs.
“[One] great thing about the Square Pegs moms is that they know all the ins-and-outs of the great programs RISD has for kids, plus early intervention programs,” Daniel says, “and they help new members figure out where to go for diagnosis and how to get the best care for their kids.”
The group has seen Fawkes through some tough times and empowered her by giving her the opportunity to help others. For example, she came across a comment in the online group forum from a woman whose calamity she understood all too well.
“She had written about her child and her feelings, and when I read it, I though it sounded just like me a year ago,” Fawkes says.
Fawkes was able to share her own struggles, solutions and hope with the newcomer.
“I reached out to her,” Fawkes says, “and that is how you end up developing real bonds with people.”
Today, Square Pegs welcomes families from all over town, and its members deal with various issues including autism, Celiac disease, and myriad diagnoses that affect development in some manner. “It is across the board, really,” Fawkes explains. “Some of the children are in public schools, others in special schools. All of them are in some sort of therapy, but for a very wide range of reasons.”
Square Pegs is associated with the LHAECPTA, but it is open to any parent who wants to get involved. For more information or to join, contact Ladonna Denslow, firstname.lastname@example.org or Molly Fawkes, email@example.com.