Redefining Motherhood….in a Season of Absence

Redefining Motherhood….in a Season of Absence

I think it was about six months ago…


But before I go on, I have to say this! If there is one thing that really matters when you’re parenting a child on your own – it is validation.


It was the day our in-home therapist showed up, but my daughter did NOT. It was very much like any other 2016 day. We did our best to carry on some semblance of a session, but where was my child?

I held it together emotionally while the therapist was here, but I was panic-stricken. As the therapist was leaving, she said something like: ‘I have to commend you for how resourceful you have been, even under the most difficult circumstances.’

Validation! That meant a lot. I said thank you, and then I sobbed.


Three months ago….


There was the day  when I decided it was time to reconnect with the couple who adopted my daughter’s birth siblings and two other children as well.




By then I had spent several weeks looking for her after a year of her leaving school, disappearing from her bed or just not coming home whenever the answer was no to something that would have been a bad choice.

The grief begins over again every single day.

On that day, listening to my words come out of another adoptive mother’s mouth for two hours was the single most validating moment of my Mommyhood. It’s not just me. The world of adoption comes with its own unique set of questions, fears and unknowns.


I don’t have to tell any of you that parenting a child with behavioral needs is a challenge for any parent.

When you add the layer of genetic mysteries, adolescents with tough questions and a complex digital universe – parenting becomes something else altogether.




That first time your child disappears can make you question everything you’ve ever done. As much as I’d like to click “undo,” I have to give myself credit for finding a world of Moms who have “been there” (and back). Validation!

People keep telling me I’m not alone so maybe I should start listening. Eventually, my daughter did resurface – which marked the beginning of a new reality, a new level of grief and a new set of challenges – within a system that is deeply flawed.


A few weeks ago…..


My daughter told me, “Mom, you always have to be grateful for what you have.” And I said, “That’s true.”





I have to say I’ve done a few things right – asking the right questions, instinctively knowing who’s willing to share experiences, disappointments…empathy.

That’s why Parent to Parent is here of course – just for me in my season of crisis. And it’s why I’m here for whomever needs whatever I have to share.

I hope it will be validating as we continue on our journey of parenting….together.


Editor’s note:  At Parent to Parent of Colorado we often talk about the “Journey of Parenting”.  The visual of a journey fits for so many reasons….it’s on-going, often bumpy, sometimes desolate, frequently beautiful.  This journey may lead us in directions that we never thought of…but also to new adventures we would never have experienced otherwise.  It’s also a journey that never ends….whether our sons and daughters are with us…or absent.  

Throughout the year, Parent to Parent of Colorado provides support to parents of sons and daughters with disabilities and special health care needs…..including behavioral and mental health needs.  We are available 24/7 through our Online Parent Support Group.  We offer individual matching with trained Support Parents for families who would like to connect one-on-one.  Parent to Parent staff also respond to emails and calls for information and referral for the greater community and participate in community resource fairs, policy and legislative efforts, and advocacy to improve the lives of families. 

In this Season of Gratitude and Giving…please support Parent to Parent to continue our important work in this community.  It’s easy to schedule a one-time donation or a recurring donation on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.  Whatever you can give, we will be grateful for your support!


Originally from Salt Lake City, P2P Board member Deon Gillespie works as a freelance writer, editor and media relations consultant. She began her career in the news industry, then came to Colorado as a Census Bureau media specialist. Deon is also a member of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council where she serves on the Planning and Grants Committee. Active in the community on many levels, Deon believes if you live in a community, you have to be a part of making it a better, more diverse and inclusive place to live. She enjoys theater, dance, film and a little bit of nearly everything else. Deon has one daughter, Calise, who is 16-years-old.
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