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The One Thing I Ask From Friends as a Special Needs Parent

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Our family has moved a few times in a short amount of time since the start of our special needs journey. Among the stress of finding new doctors, therapists, good schools, a new home and church is finding new friends. Good friends. Friends that just get it. 

You never really realize just how much your “before the journey” friends got it. They were there through the pregnancy, the NICU, through surgery after surgery and after hospital stays and doctor’s appointments. They’re the friends who don’t need a phone call, text or a play date to keep the friendship going. 

We now live in a new community far away from our “before friendsand feel the hole that is camaraderie, friendship and support. Making friends, without others seeing our journey, can be a challenge. However, I’m becoming more aware of what makes it so challenging is my distance. 

My mind is always elsewhere. 

I need to talk to physical therapist on Monday about his foot. I wonder if he needs new braces? Should we talk to his orthotist? I wonder when his next opening will be available. 

I don’t think the pediatrician is taking this seriously. I wonder if we should get a specialist? Which hospital should we go to? I’ll have to see if they have Friday appointments. 

What time is it? If I leave now, then I can look at his labs, call the doctor, make lunch, throw a load of laundry in, then get back and pick him up from school.

What is up with his levels? What does that mean? Does she really think it’s just constipation? Should I insist on getting an MRI? Am I being paranoid? Probably! How can I not be paranoid?

He should probably get a haircut soon! Man, he will not like that. Maybe I should bring a sucker? Or his bear? But then he’ll get hair all over it.

I’m rarely present. Even when I choose to be, even when I yearn to be. It’s difficult to be in the here and now with those I’m with. How do you build a friendship from that? My “before friends” understand; they give loads of grace without explanation or apology. And I also have comfort knowing that my mind can be elsewhere without the stress of trying not to be when I’m with them.

I try to be aware of my presence. I believe I can come across as distant and unwelcoming, and it’s completely unintentional. My mind is just always elsewhere. I make a list on my phone for all the to-do’s to help organize the chaos. But all the what-ifs and should-haves consume my mind.

So I say to all my future friends, please, please give us grace. Please look past our distant eyes and our late replies and cancelled play dates and see we desperately need a friend. Please see the inner turmoil as a potential for the unconditional love we give to those around us. Please see our family dedication as potential for dedication to our friendship.

Our world is a never-ending conversation in our head, and it can be truly annoying to be honest! But it’s our reality, and we just live it because it’s the best we know how. So please dear future friend, please give me grace, and I’ll give you a friendship like no other.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: September 14, 2016
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