It can be a lonely world when you have multiple children with special needs especially when you add a bit of shyness into the mix (okay, a lot of shyness). A few years back, I started to realize the majority of my daily social interactions were with my kid's teachers, therapists or doctors. A busy schedule of therapies, developmental schools and doctor appointments make up our weekdays, while on weekends we may have a few activities, but for the most part we often stay home. Waiting rooms can be a social outlet for me to meet people, but rarely do any long term friendships arise and usually I run (blissfully kid free) errands while the kid(s) are in therapy or school because taking my kids shopping gives me hives. I'm kinda kidding. By the time I get home at the end of my day, I'm ready to stay home.
Another unusual factor is Matt is home most days (since he's a musician he usually performs at night) and that contributes to my lack of social life with other moms because we do so much together. Plus, the majority of my kids don't socialize with their peers typically and consequently they don't get invited to anything, so forming a relationship with other mom's via my kids has almost been nonexistent. My 6 year old, Izzy, has been invited to more birthday parties than Kaelan, Reagan, Dasha & Lily combined.
My inner circle of friends rarely tends to extend past my siblings. They are the ones I text, phone or email the most because basically I think I can just be myself and not worry about over-sharing the latest drama, catastrophe or frustration. Even on Facebook many of my "friends" are fellow adoptive families, Down syndrome families or autism families, yet sadly I've never met most of them face to face because they live in other states.
I'm also often painfully aware of all the peculiar, sometimes annoying and even gross behaviors that are the norm in my life can be potential deal breakers for many (adults and kids alike). Watching us chase after runners & wanderers, trying to interact with kids who have little to no social skills or who speak unintelligibly, and seeing a 9 year old who isn't potty trained is a little daunting. Then there's the nose pickers, hand lickers, screamers, and the child who randomly strips down to her undies that make people squirm. I think our family overwhelms some and scares off others.
Don't get me wrong, I do meet many kind and friendly people, I just don't seem to follow through with forming a deeper connection/friendship with them. I've begun to think my kid's social deficits are starting to rub off on me. Maybe it's contagious. I just don't seem to have the ability or gumption to get out there and forge new friendships let alone sustain old. If my phone rings at night after a very long draining day, I usually cringe and avoid answering. I forget to call people back, rarely enjoy chatting on the phone anymore and hardly ever feel like going out. I've become a homebody. A recluse. I've become my dad. Crap.
Someone suggested to me the other day, I should "go on dates" with other moms to explore and accelerate potential friendships. She also advised I tone down talking about my kids initially. I had to laugh because I do tend to talk at great length about them. Think diarrhea of the mouth. Once I get going, it's hard to stop. Not always a good thing to start a new friendship off with a dissertation about my 7 kids and all of their issues. Their eyes usually start to cross as they begin formulating a plan of escape. I've thought about her "date" suggestion and have decided it's a great idea. Now I just have to lose some of my inhibitions and brazenly ask another mom out. EEK!
I was also thinking about how great it would be to have a website for posting personal ads or profiles for finding new friends in your area. Here's my tentative first attempt:
Mom of 7 looking for new girlfriends: Must like autism, Down syndrome, big families, quirky kids, chaos, movies and going out to eat at restaurants who's sign doesn't involve golden arches. If future friend has a child that doesn't mind parallel play to the extreme and little to no talking from a playmate that would be a huge bonus. ;)