What no one ever tells you about raising a kiddo with more than average needs could fill the entire book... or two. But one thing I noticed that snuck up on me... surprised me a little bit more than normal... was how I lost friends.
They didn't go missing. They just seemed to fade away.
Not all of my friends, to be sure. Indeed, I can honestly say a few of my friendships got stronger, more real. But suddenly I look around and notice we are not asked on playdates. I don't get called for happy hour, or movie night, or lunch. Co-workers and friends are always "happy to see me", and love to chat it up when they do, but the phone is silent.
In many respects this happens to every new parent. Those without children go along in their childless world, not needing to worry about 2am feedings and temper tantrums and babysitters. And you slowly gravitate to other parents with same age children. You are in the same space as them... the diapers and the strollers and the potty training. You are reading the same books, learning the same things, going to the same places. Those friendships now work for you.
But somewhere in J-man's second year, between assessments and therapy and work and home and coping, the phone stopped ringing. The invites dried up. People pulled away. Or, maybe I pulled away. Coping with the onslaught of issues and dealing with the craziness of that life was enough for me. I probably stopped accepting invitations. I probably sent out signals that we're not open for business. Seeing other kids developing on-schedule hurt. Hearing stories about what their kids were doing and how normal their lives were hurt. Even today, I imagine I would still be hard pressed to bring the J-man just anywhere. He is like a 16 month old in a 3 year old body..... doesn't follow directions... does what he likes, when he likes. There is no casual "hey let's hang out and the kids can play on their own". He doesn't operate like that. And most people don't get that....
And of course I wonder... are we rejected? Do they not call, not ask, because we are not wanted? Don't get me wrong. I get it. I mean, people's lives are complicated and full. On those days and times when you are getting together with friends, you want it nice. Fun. Friendly. You don't need issues. You don't want problems. You want it easy, seamless. And lets face it: We are neither easy nor seamless. So I get it.
Still, it can be hard to swallow... this new normal.