I just got home from the annual conference for The Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress. I was asked to be there Keynote Speaker today October 19, 2019. My Mom and I drove down to Waters Edge Resort in Westbrook Ct on the 18th. We were invited to dinner with the Board the night before. We chatted away at dinner and I noticed the board members asking my Mom so many questions and had so many interests about me, growing up and my siblings. My Mom being a New Yorker and very sassy and a strong woman herself is open and honest and holds nothing back. When she speaks people seem to really listen to her. I always notice that. So the whole dinner table was listening to her. This was nothing new.
We met another speaker at dinner who teaches a workshop called “Who Is Your Child”. Her name was Lydia H. Soifer, Ph.D. She and my Mom, Rosemary Alfredo, seem to have the same beliefs and understandings of raising children. They seemed to connect very much and share stories and likenesses. My Mom always raised me and my siblings celebrating our differences and who we were, examining and understanding we were individuals that had our own paths and strengths.
What I remember so well of my Mom was always seeing her in my school meeting with teachers and principals and any assistants I had. She was always taking to doctors, therapists and teachers outside of school too. Everyone knew she meant business. She kept 2 big binders, one was the ages and development of a child and one was my age and my development. She wrote my IEP plan (curriculum) every year of what I had to learn and strategies for the classroom. Some of the teachers did not like her and I think some were so happy to have her helping them understand me and what I needed to have a successful year. She did this every year from elementary school all the way to college. She had all my teachers every year sending her a weekly report and update on me. Even in health. She met with them every month to make sure I was making progress. She was always devoted to our success, me, my brother and my sister.
Meanwhile in high school my brother wanted to go to Don Bosco High School in NJ because it was #1 football school in the country and more than 50% of the graduates went to really good D1 football colleges on scholarships. He wanted this so badly, that she actually drove him every morning at like 5am to New Jersey and then rushed home to wake me and my sister up to get us to school. No one in her family agreed that she should do this. But my brother wanted it so much and worked so hard for it so she did not listen and allowed him to go. She would have to drive back to New Jersey to get him at the end of the day. During the day she was working, teaching exercise classes, and helping other families. She would even personal train therapists and teachers in our home gym and barter for tutoring for me one on one on the weekends. She made sure tutoring was all about life skills and fun. During the week she would make dinners and all our lunches late at night, like 10pm and then stay up reading my reports in her bed till she fell asleep. My sister Blake was young and thank goodness she was doing really well and only needed love from my Mom. I think she was always the easiest child for my Mom. Oh and this all was happening during my parents getting a divorce. So my Mom did all of this herself.
So back to the conference, my mom, Rosemary Alfredo woke up early and told me she wanted to go to Lydia’s speaking workshop on “Who Is your Child” and would see me downstairs. When I got there I heard from some people attending the workshop that Lydia was actually using my Mother as an example in her lecture, explaining how important it is to understand your child and who they are rather than creating a path you think you should create for them. She mentioned me and my successful path and my Mom being a “Hell on Wheels” parent to help her children be who they are meant to be, who they want to be and exemplify strength, confidence and a willingness to never give up.
Wow – so much has been about me and my cookie company that sometimes I forget all this. I am always grateful to my Mom everyday and what an amazing mother and friend she is and has always been. There are just a few people I feel I can trust who believed in me and she is #1. Our family has not always agreed with my choices and the path I wanted, but she always supported me and respected me for me and what I want.
My Mom is a badass. Is that okay to say? She has been called a Tiger Mom, but in my book she is a badass. Ok, I am saying it because it is actually true.
I talked to My mom tonight about all of this and learned for the first time that her dreams are to help parents and teachers raise the bar and create REAL paths for individual success. To help families that are struggling for more for their children. Well I know if you have her in your corner your child has a better chance at that. Her book she published was to start helping families see the paths she thought is most important for success.
The Best Life Possible For Your Child With Special Needs….14 steps every parent should know
By Rosemary Alfredo
Thanks Mom! I am so lucky to have you in my life. You are MY blessing.
And with all that going on she has time to be a great friend. I am blessed to know her.
The paths to success are there for everyone; just like learning to ride a bike a loving parent will help with the balance so you do not fall off at first and get scared. They ensure barricades and obstacles do not get in the way that will cause you difficulties or failure. Once you have the confidence to ride by yourself, the loving parent encourages to find new paths are adventures and gives you the knowledge and belief that you can do this without fear or that if your not sure they are there for guidance.
Your mum is a very strong and loving person who used a torch to light your path, Collette you are the bike rider, with confidence and trust, who has followed the light your mum shone because of her love for you and your siblings.
You say about your younger sister Blake being easier and only needing love from your mum; I would rather think that your mum was able to give as much love and guidance that you all needed to grow and bloom in your own each individual way.
Thank you for sharing this story, and please give your mum and family a big hug for raising a most wonderful and caring young woman.