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Wanted: Another Special Needs Mom Looking for a New Friend

It can be a lonely world when you have multiple children with disabilities — especially when you add a bit of shyness into the mix (OK, a lot of shyness). A few years back, I started to realize the majority of my daily social interactions were with my kids’ teachers, therapists or doctors. A busy schedule of developmental schools, therapies and appointments makes up our weekdays. We may have a few activities during weekends, but for the most part we stay home to rally ourselves for the coming week. Waiting rooms can be a social outlet for me to meet people, but rarely do any longterm friendships arise. I also usually run errands (blissfully kid-free) while the kids are in therapy or school because taking my kids shopping gives me hives (I’m kinda kidding). By the time I get home at the end of my day, I’m ready to collapse and relax.

Another unusual factor is that my husband, Matt, is home most days. He’s a musician and usually performs at night. He and I do a lot together during the day, and this contributes to my lack of social life with other moms. Plus, the majority of my kids don’t socialize with their peers and consequently, they don’t get invited to anything. So forming a relationship with other moms through my kids is generally not an option. My 8-year-old has been invited to more birthday parties than my six other kids combined.

My inner circle of friends rarely extends past my siblings. They’re the ones I text, phone or email the most because I can be myself and not worry about over-sharing the latest drama, catastrophe or frustration. Many of my Facebook “friends” are fellow adoptive families, Down syndrome families or autism families, yet sadly I’ve never met most of them face-to-face because they live in other states.

I’m also painfully aware that the peculiar, sometimes annoying and even gross behaviors which are the norm in my life can be deal-breakers for other adults and kids alike. Watching us chase after runners and wanderers, trying to interact with kids who have little to no social skills or speak unintelligibly, and seeing a 9-year-old who isn’t fully potty-trained is a little daunting. Then there are the nose pickers, hand lickers, screamers and the child who randomly strips down to her undies. I think our family overwhelms some and scares off others.

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Don’t get me wrong — I meet many kind and friendly people. I just don’t seem to follow through with forming a deeper connection or friendship with them. I’ve begun to think my kids’ social deficits are starting to rub off on me. I just don’t seem to have the ability or gumption to get out there and forge new friendships, let alone sustain the old. If my phone rings at night after a long, draining day, I usually cringe and avoid answering. I forget to call people back, rarely enjoy chatting on the phone anymore and hardly ever feel like going out. I’ve become a homebody. A recluse. I’ve become my dad. Crap.

Someone suggested the other day that I “go on dates” with other moms to explore and accelerate potential friendships. She also advised I tone down talking about my kids initially. I had to laugh because I do tend to talk about them at great length. Think diarrhea of the mouth — once I get going, it’s hard to stop. It’s not always a good thing to start a new friendship with a dissertation about my seven kids and all their issues. My new friend’s eyes usually start to cross as they begin formulating an escape plan. I’ve thought about the date suggestion and have decided it’s a great idea. Now I just have to lose some of my inhibitions and brazenly ask out another mom. Eek!

I was also thinking about how great it would be to have a website for posting personal ads or profiles for finding new friends in the area who live with similar disabilities. Here’s my tentative first attempt:

Mom of seven looking for new girlfriends. Must like autism, Down syndrome, big families, quirky kids, chaos, movies and going out to eat at restaurants with signs that don’t involve golden arches. If future friend has a child who doesn’t mind parallel play to the extreme and little to no talking from a playmate, that would be a huge bonus.

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This post originally appeared on Our Version of Normal.

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