When my son was diagnosed with autism, I was handed a folder, given some phone numbers to call and was sent on my way. I felt a range of feelings—I was overwhelmed, confused and scared. I quite literally had no idea what to do or where to turn. This was a brand new world for me, for us.

But still—the strongest feeling inside me was the immediate desire to connect with other families in similar situations. I wanted someone to tell me about their experience and about the services and providers that worked for them.

And I wanted someone to tell me that we were going to be okay.

When something is going on in my life, my default action is usually to share it with my people. This is what helps me cope and move forward. So, I took to Facebook and shared something about my son's diagnosis.

A friend reached out and connected me with her friend who also had a son on the spectrum. She asked if she could call me and we spent an hour on the phone that night. From then on, she's been one of my main sources of strength and support—reassuring me, comforting me and providing me with direction. She was the first addition to my special needs mama village. She threw me the life raft I so badly needed during a stormy patch in our lives.

My son entered school and my mama village grew. I found friends online and in person. These women saved me more times than they even know. We have had each other to vent to, commiserate with, share experiences with and also to express joys, frustrations and successes that other parents just might not get.

We get each other.

So, to all you amazing women who have been there for me through these ups and downs—I thank you. From the bottom of my heart. A million times over.

Thank you for picking me up and dusting me off after a meltdown.

Thank you for clapping just as hard as I do for my kiddo when he learns how to jump.

Thank you for sneakily dropping wine off in the driveway after a big accident.

Thank you for always seeing my child for the amazing person he is.

Thank you for not judging me when you notice my kid has only been eating specific purple-colored pouches and peanut butter on toast.

Thank you supporting me through an important IEP meeting and for following up to see how it went.

Thank you for listening to my fears, worries and anxieties and just being there for me while I vent.

Thank you for trading tips on picky eating, where you can find bigger diaper sizes for your 7-year-old, what iPad apps to download and so much more.

Thank you for spending 30-minutes writing out exactly what I need to do in order to apply for Medicare.

Thank you for the hugs, the gentle pats on the back and the occasional “Let's keep our heads up!" reminders. They are necessary and much appreciated.

Thank you for always welcoming us into your home. You know how hard playdates can be and I am always so grateful.

Thank you for our girls nights! The times when we can just be ourselves and enjoy these friendships we've created—are invaluable.

Thank you for always encouraging my son to unapologetically be who he is.

But most of all, thank you for always meeting me where I am and for understanding every bit of this life without me ever having to fully explain anything.

Without you all this journey would be more challenging.

Instead, you've helped it become an amazing adventure!

Always know that I've got your back and I know that you have mine. For that, I will always be forever grateful.

Renee Leanna/Facebook

Another week has come and gone—and while there's still a chill in the air and (quite possibly), January is finally coming to an end. How did your first month of the new decade go, Mama?

It's okay if 2020 hasn't been your year so far, because there are still 11 months left to go to make 2020 the #yearofthemother in your own life. If your New Year's resolution is already old news, set a new goal for yourself and catch up on some of the new stories taking over the internet.

Here's what went viral in the world of parenthood this week.

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