A little help from my friends

IMG_4503They say when something bad happens in your life, your realize who your true friends are.
After having lunch with another special needs mom a few months back, I was left thinking about the friendships in my life. She and I had discussed how to deal with the friends from our “old life”, who just didn’t seem to be able to understand our “new life”. She has a circle of friends who don’t seem to be able to support her now that she has a child that doesn’t fit with the norm, and she really wanted to figure out a way to make things easier for them. Even going so far as to try to figure out what she should do for her daughters birthday party, so that her friends wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. She is a caring and thoughtful person, so I wasn’t surprised, but I could really feel how upset she was by the way some of her friends have failed to embrace her special needs life. Of course my first instinct was to tell her to drop them all, that they should be the ones trying to help her and not the other way around. But then I stopped to consider that friendships work both ways, and that like everything else in life, some people take longer to adapt, or don’t know how to help, and maybe they just need to be educated on what being a friend to a special needs family is all about. If after all of that, they still choose to be selfish, and insensitive, then they should get the boot. I did also say however that friends play different roles in our lives, and that maybe these were not the kind of friends that you invite to your child’s birthday party, but they are perfect for a girls night out, when you want a break from all things special needs. Sometimes we all need friendships that are light and airy, so long as they make us feel good, and not bad, and we take them for what they are.
I have lost some friends since Maclain was born, simply because our paths no longer seemed to run parallel, or because they just couldn’t offer the support and love that I needed, and they really did cause more pain than gain. But I have also seen many friendships flourish in ways I never thought possible.
I have seen neighbours become life long friends, who make every effort to help us in our journey, and they love Maclain with all their heart. I have seen former girls night out friends and parents of classmates rally around to collect garage sale items for our fundraiser, and buy tickets for raffles that will help us send Maclain to camp. I have been honoured to see my friends in a sea of orange wearing tshirts at our garage sale, while sweating in the heat, and haggling with buyers, all the while with a smile and giving it their all because they wanted to help. I watch grown men dance silly dances to get him to laugh, and they call him by nicknames like “the Clainer”. Friends that I have had for 10, 15, 30 plus years have continued to be as good a friend now, as they were back then. They have raised money through annual golf tournaments, and they take great pride when they get him a birthday gift they just know he will love. I see the joy in their eyes when they hear Maclain master a new word, or walk in his walker. They include him and us in all of their celebrations, and they don’t care if his wheelchair tracks mud in their house. And while I know it can’t be easy for any of them to see us struggle sometimes, or hold back their tears when I am having a bad day, they never let me down. I get a quickened pulse, and a soft heart when I realize how much our friends care about what we are going through. I have watched how they have made friends with my special needs friends, and how now friends of our friends have become OUR friends. I get to witness it every year when they entice more people to come out to support the Three to Be Gala. They do this not only because it is a fantastic mind blowing night out, but because it is a cause so dear to my heart, and they know how it will help families like ours. I try to be so conscious about not taking too much, and making sure I give back as well because I really do cherish these relationships deep down. I will leave you with a pic that I took on our recent trip to Disney. Maclain was in his wheelchair watching some characters dancing. I had wheeled him around and moved his arms to the music, and he loved it. My friend Sherine took him in his wheelchair for some more fun, and before I knew it, she had lifted him out of his chair and was holding him in her arms dancing with Goofy. I was in awe. I quickly ran to her and said she should put him back, I didn’t want her to get hurt. She laughed and shooed me away, and they continued to dance.

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