A Song for the Years
By: Geetha Moorthy
There was a moment during our most recent after-school session where I was surprisingly overwhelmed by my emotions. In this line of work you come across many stories and people that move you, and you have to control those emotions in order to provide support, but at this particular session, I just couldn’t.
While children worked with volunteers, parents congregated in what we affectionately like to call the “parent lounge” to practice for their upcoming performance at SAAAC’s Talent Night. It was a powerful moment for me to see all these parents, who at one time came to SAAAC lacking a support system. Some parents have told me heartbreaking stories of family members deserting them; other parents, who had become more weary and hardened by time, felt they did not need connections to communities that did not understand them. There were also parents who isolated themselves completely because of feelings of shame of having a child with special needs.
When you are worried about the health and future of your child or overwhelmed by what others may think of your child, connections to your community and friendships have a way of dissolving quickly. Sometimes friends and extended family members just do not understand the struggle of caring for a child with special needs or do not want to understand. The parents that came to SAAAC a few years ago came in without many connections or support – and the lack of relationships took a toll on their overall quality of life.
Yet in just a year or two, these same parents have created incredible bonds with one another. As I sat to the side watching their practice, I saw teamwork, friendship, and comfort. At SAAAC, there are no such things as small victories. Every victory is monumental: when a child learns how to ask for a toy instead of throwing a tantrum for it or when a parent breaks through their isolation to connect with others…these are all victories that took time, effort, and courage.
The parent’s performance at SAAAC’s Talent Night, I feel, will be a culmination of years of work. There will be more to this performance than a few weeks of practice. When I see these parents singing, I see the hours of conversation, support group discussions, educational workshops, birthday and holiday parties – all the great things that brought these parents together and taught them to trust one another.
Yes, watching these parents practice together was an incredibly moving moment for me, and I know their song was years in the making.