I have been meaning to take the children for a few years now, but it seems like something always comes up. My friend, Ann Renee, just started working there and reached out to me a few weeks ago to get our family involved.
The thing about living with people with mental illness is that being out with other people can be a real challenge--especially other family groups. Playgroups are all well and good until you tell that story of the stupendous tantrum your kid threw last week--or worse, your kid throws that tantrum right there on the playground for all to see. People offer parenting tips as if your child is neurotypical, as if you haven't tried every darn thing you can think of, as if you weren't wishing the ground would swallow you up this minute.
So it was delightful today to be with other families who can accept my family for where we are at. We had George the Magician in to dazzle the children, and the parents met to talk about activities for the year. We swapped some stories about local school districts and managing IEP's (individualized education plans). We fretted a bit about the future and tried to stay focused on the moment. Two of the kids tried to sneak behind the magician's screen to peek at his secrets. The kids and I talked about family pets. It was a lovely afternoon, and I'm glad I went.
NAMI Mercer can be reached at 609-799-8994
So thanks, Ann Renee. And thanks to NAMI Mercer and George, the Master of Illusion. It was nice to ignore the stigma of mental illness for a while and just have fun.