worried woman

“Parents Anonymous is the greatest thing since sliced bread,” I’d say, and the next question is, “If it works so well, then why did you attend for so long?”

The answer to that was easy: “Little kids have little problems, bigger kids have bigger problems; No single parenting solution solves all the problems parents encounter.”

Thinking about that I realize, though, that attending the Parents Anonymous Group did something else for me. What was that?

During the week I would be stressed over various things that may seem trivial to some but to me seemed upsetting stressful. Weekends were even more stressful because Mr. Ramirez would be home all the time and he often picked on the kids. When I could, I would try to take the kids out for an activity or to visit a friend. As Monday rolled around the stress eased up somewhat until I could make it to group – Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.

On my way to each meeting I thought about what I needed to talk about or things I wanted to ask the group as a whole. Issues were often about my anger (how not to blow up), homework, messy rooms, school or teacher problems and issues concerning my husband’s abusive tendencies. I would choose one or two things to talk about to make the best use of my portion of time.

When members came into the room where group met, we signed in with our first name and a phone number so we could be reached in case of a meeting cancellation. I was usually the first parent there but I would sign in at line six or seven because I did not like being the first to speak.

Raven would often talk about the lack of transportation or money problems. Develyn was very funny but talked about serious problems with an out-of-control child. Caroline was determined that she had the “child from hell” or “the neediest child ever born” and vowed not to have another. There was Annette who worried over everything concerning the three kids and found out she was pregnant yet again. Lacey wanted to go back to work as a journalist but was wrapped up in raising her child. Elaine had three adopted children that were all incredibly difficult with one who was diagnosed with Asperger’s that could scream for hours for no reason at all.

A curious thing happened as I listened to each member, my problems all paled in comparison. Mr. Ramirez’s salary allowed me to stay home and raise Katie and Chelsey without too much pressure, my tubes were tied so there would be no more children and the kids were respectful and rarely ever fought. At least while my children were young, my only two recurring problems were dealing with my anger and protecting the girls when their dad blew his top.

Perspective: How much easier life would be if we could all put on magic glasses that enabled us see problems in their proper perspective!

After the weekly Parents Anonymous Group on Tuesdays I always felt much better about my troubles, such as they were. The group gave each of us an opportunity to be heard or to vent and to get feedback from others. We shared our experiences and learned from each other. Members encouraged each other for successes large and small. I always imagined my group standing with me when I had to do something hard but important.

In all that time something else magical happened… We bonded in ways that we never expected. This past October we held a rather informal reunion and found that some of us would like to continue meeting, which makes me extremely happy.

You may come to Parents Anonymous for support and solutions but you may get more than you expect, a journey that never ends.

“Thank you to all my Freehold Sisters.”

Jackie Saulmon Ramirez has served as a volunteer with Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Find her Parent Rap blog here on her contact page.

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