The Importance of Friends

I’ve never made friends easily. Maybe it’s a spectrummy trait, but I’ve always been somewhat socially awkward, not sure what to say, or when to say it in a conversation.  I don’t read others’ cues all that well, and it’s always been tricky.  My friends over the years have been much like me, not completely socially adept, and never the popular ones, and I like it that way.

The Man makes friends easily, or so I surmise, because he seems to know everyone within a 100 mile radius.  Part of that is growing up here, part of it is having several successful businesses in the area, so that people either went to school with him, bought a mattress from him, bought some blinds from him, or had him fix their sink/closet/screen door/roof. We often can’t get out of the grocery store on a weeknight without stopping to talk to two or three people. And part of his day is structured around breaks at the convenience store and the hardware store so that he can shoot the breeze with some folks.

But, we don’t hang out with other couples. We don’t “entertain”. When we watch HGTV and these young couples are adamant they need space for that, he and I just look at each other uncomprehendingly.  We barely use our dining table for us, let alone needing space for other people. As an entity, we are not very social.

friends at the beachThe Boy has friends at school, and there is one family with a few kids that he feels comfortable going to hang out with outside of school.  Otherwise, he enjoys hanging out in his room with his electronics, or walking around the yard. He enjoys being by himself, obviously.

We like it this way.

However… People need friends.

Being social to the point of doing stuff with other people is difficult, I think, for all three of us. And just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it’s not necessary.

There are other children at school that I think The Boy would like to hang out with, but either the families have not shown much interest, or I’m not sure how to contact them. And we don’t often attend the autism society chapter’s functions because many times they are on Saturdays, when we do family stuff.

When I left my job, the one person I considered a friend there pretty much fell off the face of the earth. I tried for awhile, but when it wasn’t reciprocated, I stopped trying. Everyone I work with now is in a different place in life than I am, i.e. just quit college… And those in the area I do call friends are soooo, so busy.

It’s a difficult thing. Between homework battles, trying to get dinner on the table, paying bills, looking for more meaningful work, and enjoying each other as a family, I feel like there isn’t much time anyway. But I also increasingly feel like we’re more and more isolated, and we need to do something about it.

Even if it isn’t comfortable.

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Why I Chose to Date as a Single Mom

“Don’t let your struggle be your identity.”

Yes, I actively pursued dating after divorce, as a single mom, as a special needs parent.  Yes, I did.  Some moms in similar situation choose not to, choosing instead to, “wait until their children are grown,” or maybe even give up the idea of ever being with someone again.  “The kids come first,” they often say.  And I don’t disagree.  Not every child, nor even every special needs child is like mine.  Some have more intense needs, and I am not judging anyone who has made this decision for themselves, because I can’t know your personal situation – only you do.

I love being a mom, and that is an integral part of my identity.  I would never give it up, I would never trade that for anything in the world.  But it isn’t all of me.  I am much more complex.  I have my own desires, needs, dreams, foibles, interests, and personality quirks.  I have my own life.  Being a mom to a special needs child is part of it, but it isn’t it.

We only have one life.  I want to live with as little regret as possible, which means doing the best I can, while stretching my personal limits a bit, growing, and learning all the time.  Having a non-existent social life would be a huge source of regret for me.

Also, I want my child to understand that I was put on this planet to be his mom, but also to be a lot of other things, just as he was put on this planet to be my son, and also a lot of other things.  He has autism, but he has a lot of other really cool stuff that make up his identity.

“Don’t let your struggle be your identity.”

That is what I wish for him, and I hope I am modeling that for him by living my life to the fullest.

PS ~ I couldn’t find an attribution for the quote – if anyone knows, please mention in the comments!