My Tribe of Brave Women Gives Me Hope

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Posted February 23, 2020 from Philippines
My Tribe of Brave and Strong Ausome Mothers!

 " When we invest in women, we are investing in the people who invest in everyone else.“ - Melinda Gates

This afternoon, I got a chance to meet some of the bravest and strongest women I know: mothers raising children with special needs, specifically Autism Spectrum Disorder. In short, Ausome (Autism+Awesome) Moms. They are members of the Autism Family Support Group founded by Ms. Josie Ortiz.

It has been a while since I got reconnected with these mothers due to periods of adjustments in settling in Cebu City.

This February, my husband and I enrolled my son with special needs for occupational therapy and speech therapy. The new schedule changed the dynamics of our household. Our lives got busier than before, and I somewhat felt helpless after hearing my son’s assessments from specialists.

I could not deny the attack of negative feelings of not doing enough or if there was something I could have done before that could prevent this condition from taking place. In short, I faced a lot of down moments to the point I felt I was not fit to be a mother.

I tried sharing these thoughts to close friends, but I ended up explaining more than I wanted to. It was difficult to put my thoughts into words until I realized it’s no use. It only takes a mom raising a child with special needs to understand what another mom raising a child with special needs is going through. So I longed for connection with these type of moms.

One day, my husband Jerick informed me that he got awarded Starbucks gift cards as incentives for a job well done. Then he said, he would give these all to me so I can have a series of “ME” times. I was so grateful for his generosity.

A few moments later, I felt the need to reconnect with some Ausome mommies, "How about making my 'ME' times an invitation for a 'WE' time?

So I contacted a few of these moms to set a coffee date with them. I was so happy they said yes! Our coffee date began with sharing updates and stories. But truth to tell, their mere presence already strengthened and encouraged me. These are mothers who faced the toughest, most unpredictable situations in parenting, and yet there they were standing strong because of their love for their children. THIS. IS. MY. TRIBE.

There were no explanations needed. Just a look in one’s eye, I know they’ve been through what I’m going through.

There were no questions on why one felt a certain way, they knew.

There were more validations of “I’ve been there, too, but we were able to manage”, “Just keep going, you’ll see their progress soon”, and more uplifting words.

There was no judgment; instead, there were messages of perseverance, love, determination, and hope.

Where had I been, they asked? But before I could answer, they already understood.

I learned a lot from their personal experiences as I sat in this circle of brave and strong mothers.

There were no “Woe is me. Boohoo” statements. Instead, the conversation flowed into, “how can we help other Ausome mommies?”

So together we planned to invite more Ausome mommies this coming International Women’s Day in partnership with World Pulse. We already assigned topics to share including self-care, nutrition, depression, and World Pulse.

We all agreed that our coming together for meet-ups is a form of self-care because mothers can lose ourselves in the process of child-rearing. We need each other.

As I listened to these Ausome Mommies, I felt happy that God opened a door for us to live in Cebu. I consider this support group as an answered prayer after suffering in silence and isolation elsewhere.

I have found my tribe, and this is a strong one. We strive to help our ausome children using both faith and science. My hope for my son to be independent one day grew larger during this coffee date. I am no longer alone.

It takes a special village to raise children with special needs. I am so glad I found a supportive community of women who walk alongside me on this journey. These women gave me hope.

I'm grateful we got to enjoy free coffee at Starbucks. What a wonderful treat it was for these amazing mothers!

 

This story was submitted in response to Moments of Hope.

Comments 45

Log in or register to post comments
Veronika
Feb 23
Feb 23

Dear Karen,
It's a great story and I must say you're very good at writing. I'm glad you've found your friends. Friends make us stronger and happier.

Hello, Veronika,

Thank you so much for your kind words! I agree! Friends are blessings.

Josie Pascasio Ortiz

Cried a lot for this. Thank u very much for sharing your experience. I thank God for friends like you and other ausome moms. The privilege of serving and having you is already a great blessing. May other women who are struggling and in difficulty find a tribe who will listen and just care. Xoxo - Josie

Hello, Mommy Josie, thank you for reading and leaving a comment. I’m grateful that God brought us together. While I was sitting on that table together with you, I marvel at how God allowed us to stay in Cebu. Meeting you and the rest of the Ausome mommies is one of the unexpected blessings I received. Let us love and support more Ausome mommies together so there will be more and support for their ausome children.

I’m so proud of our tribe! Hugs and love!

Jill Langhus
Feb 24
Feb 24

Hello Kaye,

How are you doing? What a lovely update, photo and plan for the future Ausome Mommies group...yay! Looking forward to hearing more about your IWD and future meet-ups. I'm so glad to hear that you've found such a great support network and soul tribe:-) XX Thanks for sharing, dear!

All is well, JLo. My schedule has been quite hectic since the therapies began. We are implementing a home program as well.

Yes, thank you! We are all excited for this day! Thanks to World Pulse we had a little financial help to support this event.

Yes, this is a great tribe of women. I feel encouraged just by listening to their ausome journeys.

Thanks, dear!

Jill Langhus
Feb 26
Feb 26

Very good:-) Oh, I see. I hope it's worth it, though, i.e., seeing progress, etc?

You're welcome:-) Oh, great!

Yay! Big win, then. Great to hear.

XX

Maya Iwata
Feb 24
Feb 24

Karen,
Love the name of your group and also how you create supportive community on and offline! Also so glad that you and the other Ausome mommies are taking time for community building and self-care. Peer support is real and can make one feel less alone while balancing the multiple challenges. Also so appreciate that your partner is truly a partner and looks out for you as you are very busy looking out for your children and others.

Hello, Maya,

Thank you for your support as always! Yes, I am so happy to meet them! We’re truly in the same journey, and it is a great safe space to breathe , too!

Thank you for appreciating my husband. These mommies here were able to show up in our meeting because their husbands looked after their children while we had our “we” time.

maeann
Feb 24
Feb 24

You found a support group :) Yea to that!!! You are all amazing Mommies!!!

Thank you, sis! You are part of our support group, too! Huge thanks to you!

Anita Shrestha
Feb 24
Feb 24

Wow, looking happy and prosperrious.
Be always like this

Thank you, dear sis Anita. That coffee is free!

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Dear Karen,
How are you doing. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know ho it can be challenging but am glad you have gotten your self a support system that gives you hope and that you can rely on. God bless you all because you are extraordinary moms and we love you with all our hearts.
Have a lovely day

Hello, love,

All is well by God’s grace. It’s my pleasure to share. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, dear. I love you, too!

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Your welcome. Have a blessed day.

Shirin Dalaki
Feb 26
Feb 26

Your story touched me deep within, thanks for sharing the love and gratitude. I am so happy for you and want the best for you.

Hello, dear,

Thank you for your words of encouragement. I'm blessed to know you. :)

Shirin Dalaki
Feb 27
Feb 27

So do I, thank you.

Akshaya9
Feb 27
Feb 27

Hi Kaye,
Thank you for sharing your story during the meet ups of other Ausome moms.
I know you try your very best for your child, you are fit as a mother for them. Just be strong and soon your son will have a new progress kaye :-) .

His a smart boy like his parents and he can do it.

Take care and big hug to your kid's kaye

Hello, Jack,

Thank you for reading. It is truly a blessing to have a support group that knows exactly what we are going through. I'm glad to have a friend like you, too!

Yes, he is a smart boy. His speech therapist confirmed that today! I feel encouraged. Thank you for your kind words. :)
Hugs to you and your wonderful children, too!

Akshaya9
Mar 01
Mar 01

Hi Kaye,
I'm lucky to have a friend like you :-) .

I'm glad to hear about the new findings from his therapist kaye.

Take care always kaye :-)

Awww. Salamat, Jack. Hugs always!

ARREY- ECHI
Feb 27
Feb 27

Dear Sis Karen,
You are all amazing mothers raising awesome kids.
I am glad you found a supportive, happy tribe to be with you in this challenging but equally fulfilling ride.
I pray your wish comes true and your amazing son grows to be the independent young man you wish for him and all kids with special needs.

They are special in their own unique way. Thank you all for sharing these beautiful smiles. It shows that even in the darkest clouds, the sun will always shine.
Ride on you Ausome Moms.
Love and hugs.

Awww. Thank you, dear sister Arrey,

Yes, I am glad, too. I felt rested to be in that circle. Thank you, dear, I believe he will. These moms encouraged me that one day that will happen.

I agree they are special. My son taught me a lot about love, patience, perseverance, and more. He opened the door for me to care for others who are deemed an outcast by society.

You do really know what to say. I am so glad you won that Encourager Grand Prize! Thanks again and again, our dear Sickle Cell Warrior. You know you are one of my inspirations.

Oluwatoyin Olabisi
Feb 27
Feb 27

I am happy you found your community
just yesterday I felt depressed, all I did to feel better was call a friend and the dramatic change in my mood was unimaginable.
There is strong power in being with the right community.
I believe and I have strong hope that your son would be independent very very soon
stay strong sister.

Hello, Oluwatoyin,

Thank you for sharing about feeling depressed. I have those moments, too, and it could really be quite overwhelming!

I am so glad you have friends that you can share your thoughts with. I agree with you on experiencing that powerful connection when we open up to the right people.

Awww. Thank you for your wishing my son well and for your thoughtful encouragement. Have a great weekend!

Gloriana B.
Feb 27
Feb 27

Nothing better than to find the right kind of FAMILY!! Thank you so much for your story, very touching, I am sure everything will be fine and before you know it your very special little one will be independent and amazing...much love!

Gloriana

Heloo, Gloriana,

Thank you so much for affirming the joy of being in the right circle.

Awww. Thank you, dear. I am hopeful that will happen! Love and hugs!

Kristine Yakhama
Feb 28
Feb 28

Speaking out is good as a parent you need to be strong and trust God

Thank you, dear Kristine! Yes, in times of weakness, I draw strength from God.

Myra Tambor
Mar 01
Mar 01

So inspiring. I hope to meet you and this group in Cebu, one day soon. :-)

Hello, dear Myra,

Thank you! Yes, we hope to meet you soon. In case you visit, we are only available during weekends. See you!

Kika Katchunga
Mar 02
Mar 02

Hello Karen

Proud of you my sister, glory be to God, who has not left you, they send you mothers who encourage you during these difficult times, my greetings in them.

Awww, Kika, I love your words so much. Thank you for your encouragement! I will extend your greetings to them.

Kika Katchunga
Mar 02
Mar 02

Proud of you my sister, glory be to God, who has not left you, they send you mothers who encourage you during these difficult times, my greetings in them.

Endale Edith
Mar 02
Mar 02

Hello Karen,
What an amazing idea you've got there. I'm glad you were able to enjoy yourself at Starbucks. Keep at it, keeping impacting and touching lives. You are a gift to many.

Have a productive week!

Thank you, dear sister. Yes, free Starbucks coffee is definitely enjoyable, but I did had a difficult time sleeping that night. Their coffee is too strong for me. LOL.

Awww. You are so sweet. I am encouraged. Thank you again, dear Edith.

Endale Edith
Mar 11
Mar 11

Always my pleasure dear Karen.

marsieve
Mar 12
Mar 12

This is a great story--thanks for sharing! I'm s glad you've found a great support group.

Thank you, dear sister, for sharing my joy! Hope you and your family are safe during this coronavirus pandemic.

Regina Afanwi Young
Mar 14
Mar 14

Thanks Karen for sharing your story. I know that feeling. My first son also lives with a disability and worst still in a country y we're little or nothing is done to provide opportunities for persons with special needs. Am glad you finally found a support group and you found hope. Don't worry just keep doing your best and the best is also on its way to your son and family. In sisterhood. Regina

You are welcome, dear. Ohh, I love your son already. What kind of disability, sister Regina? That is a sad reality. My heart breaks to know that services are not available for the special needs community. I hope you can find support, dear. It is not an easy path, but I know you are a resilient mother. God makes no mistakes, He knows you are the perfect mom for your son. Thank you for encouraging me, sister. Please stay safe always!

Chidimma
Mar 23
Mar 23

Dear Karen, just like the quote "Problem shared is problem half solved'
Am happy you found a group of like minds to share and discuss a way forward.
Remain strong and I know you will pass through this hurdles and permanent healing will come for your son and same for other.
My prayers is with you.
Remember what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
One love.

Thank you, dear sister, I love that quote. We can do more when we have support groups.
Thank you for your words of encouragement and prayers, dear. That means so much. Please stay safe always!