‘Good friends show their love in times of trouble, not just in times of happiness’ – Euripides
Mums of disabled kids: We’ve all got ‘that friend’, the one that would do anything for you and your child.
The one that always knows what to say, when to call, when you need an extra-big cuddle or extra-large glass of wine.
As we know too well, when we become parents of disabled children we can experience desertion and isolation, and this is all the more heart-breaking when it comes from people you classed as friends. But this blog is not intended to bang the drum about friends deserting you when you become a special-needs mum.
There are a million blogs out there on that topic.
Today I want to talk about the friends that support and champion us. The ones that understand us and our children, that give with no expectation of thanks or reciprocation.
One thing that became apparent to me shortly after I found myself catapulted into the category of ‘special-needs parent’ was how fortunate I was to have a friend who was just there. Yes, you. You know who you are.
For the first 12 months of my son’s life, I don’t think I’ve ever needed a friend as much as I needed you then. I’m not sure that I even knew how much I needed you then, and how much you did for me.
I certainly didn’t thank you, in fact it’s only now, five years on, that I can take a retrospective view and see just how important in my life you were.
It’s difficult to express exactly what made our friendship so valuable and instrumental in my mental health and sanity.
Often it’s just the little things that make a big difference.
You always know what to say even when there’s nothing to say.
You behave like a protective parent on my behalf when the three of us are out in the big wide world.
You cry with me when I share my sorrows.
You’ve given up your one day off to be with me and my child.
You give the most thoughtful presents; you don’t make embarrassed excuses for why you have chosen something from the toddler section.
Your first question when we meet up is always “How’s my little man?”
You show incredible persistence at trying to get me out for an evening, even though most offers are deflected by my claims of being tired and bad company.
You demonstrate continued efforts to work hard at our friendship, even when mine have been desperately poor in return.
You never tell me everything happens for a reason. Or that God only gives special children to special people. Thank you for that.
You get to know my child, inside out, even though it means having your beautiful hair pulled out and your clothes slobbered on. You never once wince or recoil. You just laugh and continue the play fighting that you know gives him such enormous joy.
I have stopped apologising to you on behalf of my son. You just get it.
This perseverance has paid dividends because now it’s you that he asks for when I say we are going to see a friend.
It’s your name he yelps when he sees a silver soft-top drive past.
It’s your picture he scrolls to on the iPad photo library.
You doesn’t have your own children, is it because of this or despite this that you have so much love to give mine?
Thank you, to my friend and all of the other friends out there. The job you do for us is worth more than you will ever know.