My name is Jaya Pandey and I live in Franklin, MA with my husband and sons. I have two boys, Ajey and Anand. My younger one has Autism.
For years, I have been working on raising awareness about Autism, specially in Indian community. Help me in building a community for Indian Moms with Special Needs kids.. My idea is all about Moms helping other moms and be each other's resource person.
Come Join me finding a friend for special need moms.
My other blog is - JayaPandey.blogspot.com
my last blog (about Mom’s get together) I got a text from a very dear friend –“I
confess I need to be educated about days in your life and how can I help, We
need to be a more aware society and help when and where we can”
have been thinking about it for a long time, every time I talked about Autism
awareness and acceptance I did understand that explaining the spectrum is very
difficult and talking about Anand and his ability will not help everyone on spectrum.
I have been looking for ways to do it in a better way. And then this text again
proved my point. We just don’t have to talk about awareness we need to build a
better society with understanding.. not just ask for acceptance for our kids.
am working on this draft, please help me explain in a better way.
journey is sure different than mine, but again we are in this together. I appreciate
having friends in my life who try to understand what our life is with Anand.
Over the year, they have seen Anand grow and their existence in my life is the
strength. I wish you all have someone to go to, I wish your friends have
understanding of your difficulties and I wish they have heart to offer their
help to you.
someone asks, what is autism I still struggle to explain, I say for my son it
is comprehension issue, he has trouble with filters, cannot understand abstract
and flowery language, he doesn’t understand when people talk very fast. He
cannot foresee, predict and plan. He doesn’t have “what if” scenario, he doesn’t
understand the consequences and absolutely cannot bend the rules. He doesn’t know
how to make and keep friends and complexity of situation or relationships are
beyond him. Unknown is the scary world for him and because he doesn’t get many
things he doesn’t want to be part of any circle now.
still remember the Soccer days, when everyone in the team was running around for
ball my son was busy watching stuff on ground, going in different direction and
not understanding what coach was shouting.
is much better with non-abstract stuff. He loved board games. He is very good
with chess or scrabble and his grammar is perfect. He is wonderful with younger
kids because they don’t question him. He loves to help if he can.
Huh, I think this description is good enough
for now, for me and for you too. At least it gives an idea.
help me write this, help me explain what goes in our life. How we don’t have a
day to day life because it can change its mood any minute. I want to help the
special families as well the typical families to understand our life. So, they
can be help when needed and believe me so many would love to be part of your
world, just need to know how.
to seek help, offer help and pay it forward. Anand cleaning my car this morning, BECAUSE I asked for help. Dad woke up with leg pain and couldn't do much. so we explained to Anand how can he help. and here he was all geared up to rescue us.
The energy, the laughter,
the happiness and the excitement in that room was so obvious, for a moment I
forgot that these are the moms whose lives are far from easy and it was nothing
short of miracle to have all of them there in one room on a cold, Friday night
in December. BUT they were there and were REALLY present, the feeling of
gratitude washes over me as I write this. Some day you really need an assurance
with what you are doing is right, it was one of those night.
I have been planning for
this for sometimes now and wasn’t sure how will it work out. Venue, time, date,
convenience and logistics too many things to worry about, ON top of that we are
special mothers, nothing is certain in our life. One meltdown can change the
direction of the day. I haven’t met most of them in person so no one knew what
to expect, and to give an evening to someone you never met is little too much
to ask and I totally get it.
A friend and I joked that we
might end up alone. Well, I believed in the mission and decided to go ahead
with the plan. I am sure there were many questions in everyone’s mind about the
whole idea. Meanwhile some of them read some of my blogs, some read Saree stories
and I am sure some agreed just for the curiosity. As day drew closer more agreed.
I think it was peer pressure in that what’s app group. A night before we learnt
the restaurant won’t take the reservations for Friday night. These are the
times you thank your stars, a friend who owns a restaurant agreed to host us. Meanwhile
another persistent mother could finally convince the Olive Garden manager and
we were in. Friday morning, we were around 18-20 mothers. By the time, we met we
were party of 27. When I walked in I was a happy and worried woman, I really
wanted everyone to have great time. The manager gave us a room and the best
staff. We met, we laughed, hugged, complimented, commented and joked. We did
introductions, we shared our dreams and celebrated what we have and decided not
to worry about what we don’t have. We promised to help and support each other.
We posed and took pictures. Someone toasted for positivity in life. We joked
with our wait staff and had so much fun that other people in restaurant asked
the manager what kind of celebration was going on. I am sure they were in shock
knowing we were special mothers. We all walked in not knowing many and after
more than three and half hour we left having many by our side. Promised each
other to meet soon. I drove back home with gratitude in my heart. So many
emotions and so many happy faces, that’s all I can remember.
The next morning my phone
was buzzing with messages and pictures. One of them said it was one of the best
night she ever had, the other said it was her first night of this kind and she
is glad she came. One said she thought her life was just cooking, cleaning and
taking care of kid but that night she found something beyond that.
I was asked to plan another
one soon. The moms who couldn’t make that night want to make sure they attend
the next one.
That one night redefined
strength, motherhood, optimism, enthusiasm, persistence, support, hope,
confidence and sisterhood. I always believed in having girlfriend support
system, I am so glad many of those have a village of their own now.
This beauty is a gift from a high school friend's wife, whom I never met. He came to see us in Boston when he visited NJ for work. I think he spent more time in flight and on road than with us. we are not only lucky to have great friends but their spouses in our life too.
Last night I went to bed with a feeling of satisfaction in my
heart. The feeling when you know you made a difference, even a tiny one, a
simple one. When you have done something and you SEE the result.
I have been writing about our life for few years. It is painful
and depressing many a times but rewarding at the same time. Even one comment
from someone who felt it was their story, someone felt close, someone else felt
they are not alone, most importantly someone felt the hardship in their life is
not end of the world. When my boys were young “you got a friend in me” from toy
story was their favorite. This song still is my mantra, I think I can be myself
because I am very fortunate to have people who get me. Ashish has been my best
friend forever, Ajey became my another to go person when I need some light to
see things differently and Anand has inspired me to be a better person, always.
Other than these three men in my life there are some unsung heroes who hold me
tight, they have their ways of saying they got me no matter what. My parents
and sisters are my other pillar of strengths. I think I am optimist because I
have these rays of sunshine in my life, always believed everyone should have
some of that.
I have been told that I connect on a different level, never
thought it that way. I have always had friends in my life but now when I am a
mother I need different level of friendship with different people. Specially
with Autism taking over our life in least expected way I think my relationships
held me together and made me stronger. And I have been working on spreading joy
of having “togo” people in life. Finally its taking shape and I am so happy.
I have been organizing special moms get together, 4 -5 moms
would come and we would talk about our life. I was extremely happy that at
least they felt like coming out of their shell and shared their world,
sometimes a difficult one to stranger me. They opened their heart and life and
made me a part of it.
Tonight we are meeting again and I am overwhelmed and over joyed
that looks like we will be 25+ in that group. When the plan started a friend
and I joked that it might be two of us only. We didn’t expect Moms coming out
on a December, cold Friday night. But as days pass by I could feel the
excitement. The planning, the place, the location, the ride, the sitter,
husbands schedule talk about all these things again proved my point, we so want
someone who gets us, listens to us.
I am so excited and want all of them to sing – for each other,
for themselves..”you got a friend in me” Amen !!
Below is picture from yesterday, such a rare sight.. Anand agreed to be in picture, a smiley and happy Anand.