Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On Why I Drink Alone

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.


Apraxia Mom said...

True friends hang in there. Unfortunately, people think that you are so wrapped up in your child's special needs that you are too tired to play with the adults. That has happened to me. Of all my friends, none of them had SN kids. So I made "new" friends with those Moms with SN kids. The old ones are still around, but it's nice to have friends who are Moms of SN kids. I always say "family first".

Hang in there!

Pia said...

One of my BF's has a child with special needs (2, actually) and it is the best thing ever to talk with her.... she gets it, you know? But, alas, she moved far away and I feel that absence deeply. Most of the time I really am too busy to notice the absence of "girlfriends", but every once it a while I look up and go "WTH"?

I am trying to connect with other SN families, but so far it has been a bit of a challenge. But gotta keep at it, I know... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Pia! Came here from your comment on my blog. I understand this. Try being 38 when your kid is born! Most of your friends' kids are already grown! :)

Enjoy your writing...if you look at some of my archives, you will find despair and hand-wringing, but there is hope! Things DO get better.

Anonymous said...

Do you belong to the Natural Late Talkers group?


Pia said...

Hi Jeanna! Love your blog!

I am a member of the NLT group! In fact, that is why we decided to go see the C's. I am hopeful about them... I sometimes wonder how I became so skeptical.... or is it cynical? Anyway, Welcome!!! :)

Anonymous said...

We become skeptical because we are scared to be too hopeful -- I think!

Thanks! I really like your blog, too. I haven't had time to read the archives, but I will.

Have you read Ange's blog? Her son's story is all there. Let me know if you want the link. It's inspirational (her son is older now and doing great)!

Pia said...

Nope, I haven't hit up her blog yet. Do you have the link? THANKS!

Pia said...

oh wait, nevermind, I DO have her blog and yes, it is awesome!! THANKS

Anonymous said...

Pia, if you ever want to talk, my email is jswafford@utm.edu.

I am 2+ years ahead of you in this journey. You are at the worst time. It will get better. I promise you that.

If your son is affectionate toward you and others (even if it is a few others...our boys only trust those who know them....then he is NOT Austistic. I am not trying to diagnose him...but telling what the C's told me.

Kisses and hugs to you and the J-Man. Ange pulled me through and now I feel it's my calling to do the same for others. Take a deep breath and enjoy your child (Guarantee the C's will tell you that!)

Anonymous said...

I swear you've taken the words right out of my head. I'm right there with you. I have virtually no friends right now, and being around other "normal" kids can be painful. Next month I should be starting to volunteer at my church in the children's disability ministry. I think it's almost as much for my connection, as theirs.
My husband still has tons of friends, but he doesn't discuss
Ben with them (that I know of) nor does it Ben's problems seem to impact his social life, like it does mine.
So sorry you're going through this.

Brittany at Mommy Words said...

Real friends should stay but intough times you find out the hard way who real friends are. My kids are developing normally but still, with 3 kids 3 and under I have people who no longer want to hang out, who don't want the major hassle of my young family. It is tough with motherhood too because some friends, whil great with the kid talk and common family issues, end up not sharing a lot of real personality interests and would not have been your bestie without kids. Sometimes conversations on other topics are difficult. That is the most frustrating thing for me.

I have a friend with a very autistic 5 year old son who comes over and I think she loves that we love to have her here and that my kids are happy to play with him how he wants to play and help him along where they can.

I hope you find more real friendships and just know that there are lots of us who know the pangs of lonliness in motherhood!

Brittany at Mommy Words said...

p.s. now following you and here to be your online friend!


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