I used to book play dates more for Michael back when he was a preschooler. This was when I was thinking more about how bonding with kids would help him, and not how it would help to talk with these kids’ Moms. But it ended up helping both of us. Michael would play with the other kids who had challenges like him, and I would talk to Moms who faced the same challenges I faced in raising a child that was the same yet different from other children. Over time, these Moms became as much my friends as their kids became Michael’s friends, and I wasn’t only talking to them about therapists, language skills and food or social problems with our kids. I was talking to them about my dreams as a writer, about my marriage, my favorite books and music. In other words, we had moved to the next dimension of building a friendship, one where you share all parts of yourself, not only the one which brought you together in the first place.
Now, years later, I still talk to my Exceptional Mom friends about my Exceptional Child and theirs, but we also discuss our lives, laugh, commiserate, and occasionally even go out for lunch or shopping! What a feat! I never thought I would be able to get past my worries about Michael’s development in the early days after his diagnosis, but here I am. And now, I look forward to play dates for Michael as much for him as for myself. It is my chance to have a play date with my friends as well, to connect as Moms and women, particularly in the summer when our stress levels are a little higher. I have learned to treasure the time Michael and I both have with our friends, and try to schedule more of these gatherings whenever I can. I see that it has helped me learn and grow socially as much as it has Michael.
What kind of friendships have you made as a result of your Exceptional Children? Do you see your children’s friends’ Moms in a new light too as you share more of your life with them? If you haven’t allowed yourself to open up to other Moms, I encourage you to give it a try. It will help you grow in every way as a person, just as your child grows from meeting different people. And, it will be a lifesaver for you in difficult moments. You’ll have wonderful women to turn to when things are stressful. You’ll get through those tough times together and be stronger for it. Until next time.