Tami Duff is 47 and I was born in St Paul, MN.  I grew up in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities and attended UW-Eau Claire to study biology.  I planned to spend my life studying ocean wildlife or rainforest ecology, but life has thrown me more curveballs than I could have imagined!

I married young and worked in the insurance and medical industry for 15 years after college and waited for a very long time to be a mom.  It didn't come to me without a lot of pain and suffering, as I learned early on that I was not going to be able to carry a baby of my own.  

 The most amazing gift came to me when I least expected it.  The most beautiful girl in the world became my daughter through adoption after years of heartbreak and longing.  She turned my world upside down from the first time I held her, I finally realized what having a purpose in life felt like.  

I'll call her "M" here to protect her identity, which is really a shame because her name is musical and sweet - but "M" will have to do!  She was born with a light inside her that was undeniable.  Her big, soft brown eyes observed the world with wild-eyed wonder and pure curiosity.  Being her mom brought me nothing but joy and filled me with excitement for the life I had not expected.

She is my little co-pilot in the adventure of life.

But…  I’m writing this blog for a reason, right?  It's not all sunflowers and rainbows… 

When M was 4 her dad abandoned us. I was a single mom for a few years until love found my heart again and we blended a new family and moved to New Richmond, WI where we live now, with my husband Matt, our cats Kaleo and Kalliope, and our puppy, Teyha.  We made a new life.

Our story has ups and downs, deep pain, and excellent adventures.  We’ve suffered loss, abandonment, abuse, and neglect at the hands of those who should have been more careful with us. We’ve enjoyed the support, love, care, and encouragement of family and friends, and unexpected strangers. 

I’m the mother of a child who is struggling with her mental health, and who isn't finding her way through this world with the ease for which I’d hoped.  She is struggling, and her pain is mine.  I’ll share more details of her story in the “The Journey of Ms. M” section - there is a lot to unpack there.  For this section, I will say that being her mom has brought the biggest joys and also the biggest fears and I wouldn't trade a moment of either for anything this world has to offer.

The journey we’ve been on through the mental health system has shown me some of the glaring brokenness and victimization that occurs to those who need its protection and support.  My years of “doing what I knew to do” and counting on those who “know better” to guide me left us languishing in a minefield of pain and discord.  If I’d only known where to look for help sooner or had someone come along that would say to me “I’m HERE and I’ve been THERE, let me help”, things would be so much different.  

I wouldn't have been so isolated and alone in my confusion and despair.  I wouldn't have had to white knuckle my way through every assessment, every call for help, every appointment with this professional or that expert.  I wouldn't have had to learn THE HARD WAY when my child’s life and sanity were on the line.

This is my dream:  To take what I and mothers like me have learned to change the way the system treats our children and their parents.  To help everyone behind me navigate the broken system to their greatest advantage.  To heal through helping others heal.  To be that person on the phone at 2 a.m. when YOU are at your end to hear you scream and vent when your child is not acting like your child and you have done all you can.  To sit with you in the ER while you wait for a bed for your child.  To give every isolated, distraught, and exhausted parent a life raft in your ocean of despair and confusion.

I want to be what I needed most.  Someone to shine a light in a dark place. 

March 23, 2023



Warrior Momma

I chose the name “Warrior Momma” because I’ve been fighting a war against a system that is hostile and unforgiving. It claims to be smarter than I am, it tries to break me down and make me feel powerless. It's an enemy that puts up barrier after barrier, battle after battle, siege after siege.  Foxholes are in short supply and the front lines are in every direction you look.  There is no sanctuary that lasts long enough to catch your breath, much less find time for healing and respite.  I’m a warrior.  And momma, if you’re in this war, so are you.  This is my fight song.


Lived Experience:

IEP support in person / virtually, Parent & Self Advocacy & Recovery,  Autism Spectrum, Bipolar, Mood Disorders, Sensory Processing Disorder, Chaos & Constant, Caregiver of Child - Mental Disability, Suicidal ideation, Homicidal Ideation.


CPPS WI (Certified Parent Peer Specialist)


Public Speaking 

Master Coach IEP: Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy (March 2024 course)

WeCOPE- Interactive program to help adults cope with life stress (Mindfulness, Savoring, Positive Reappraisal, Gratitude, Goal Setting,ECT)