Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Most mothers celebrate every milestone of their child's accomplishments. This is especially true for special needs children. We rejoice in their successes and make a BIG DEAL about anything that raises their self esteem, and mostly to feel "included".
The things to do list is usually about their needs, and others in the family. Rarely is "mom" on the top of the list, because "it is what it is". This was the case until I was turning 50. When my husband asked me what I wanted to do, I told him I wanted a BIG PARTY in the back yard celebrating me. It was huge to even think of this, but the truth is I needed this night to be special. It was a milestone for me, and I needed to acknowledge that I was more than just a mother. I needed to feel good about myself in a way that was only for me. I needed to celebrate with friends.
My mother used to say, "There will be a time when you will clean out your closet of friends. You will release the ones that don't "fit" anymore, and keep the classics that not only fit you, but stand the test of time." Boy was she ever right!
However, through the years I have come to realize that there are all kinds of friends that come into our lives, and for very specific reasons. Some are laughing buddies that raise you up just by being in their presence. They may not be there when you need them most, but they are there for you to provide a healing that raises your energy and spirits the way only laughter can.
Then there are the mentor friends who you only see or talk to now and again, but their guidance and wisdom is profound. You appreciate their sound advice, and they gladly offer it when you ask.
Other friends are your oldies but goodies. You know them from high school or even from your younger days. You may only converse through Facebook, but you find comfort in the familiar nostalgia, and genuinely care about their wellbeing.
Work buddies feel good too. They get to see you as a person with talent. They know you are a mom, but they enjoy your company and what you bring to the table. Sometimes work buddies become personal buddies. Ones that stay even after you leave the company.
Your soul "mates": The English got it right when they reference friends as "mates". I believe the dearest of friends, are truly soul-mates because there is profound understanding, acceptance, trust, and love. If you experienced an automatic connection upon meeting someone for the first time, then I believe you were kindred spirits, reconnecting again for the sake of helping each-other survive and thrive in our individual circumstances. Soul-mates, our most comforting and trusted friend(s), are the gifts we give ourselves.
We don't need a lot of friends. We need different types of friends. As long as we have one that matters most, then that's all that matters.....especially for the mom with a special needs kid.
So, please make a promise to yourself, that you will schedule time with a specific type of friend that you particularly need right now. You'll be so glad you did.
Debra Taubenslag, Author
No Stone Unturned: How My Special Needs Child and I Transformed Against All Odds