When I originally agreed to write for this series, I had thought I would write about the friendships I lost as a result of the constant care required for my special needs son, Logan. However, as I started writing, and pondering my words, I kept thinking of instances before I was a mother, and before I was given the great opportunity of having Logan. And so, I will write about that time, when I was not the friend I could have been.
When I was a teenager, and started noticing mothers with children who had various needs, I always thought to myself, “ Oh, I could never do that. I could never be the mother of a child who needed so much.” And so I would ignore a mother struggling in the store, or at church, or wherever. I would turn away when I saw a child with Down Syndrome, or Cerebral Palsy, or any other manner of visual differences. Not because I was mean spirited, but because I was uncomfortable, and I never knew what to say or do or offer. So rather than ask any risk embarrassment, I did nothing.
A few years later when I was a mother, I was thankful. Thankful that I had “perfect” children who developed and progressed “normally”. I began to pity mothers that had a child, or more than one child, who wasn’t “perfect”. I would still see mothers with special needs children, and I would pity them, but I would never offer help. I would think to myself how much better life was for me, with my “perfect” children, and think again, “ Well, God knew I couldn’t handle a child like that, so that’s why I have the children I have.” Again, it was never mean spirited, but oh, so very very naïve.
When I became pregnant with my twins, I was working full time with a commute an hour each way, and supporting 5 children as a single mother. I was a busy, busy woman. Later in the pregnancy, the twins’ father moved into my home and took over the financial aspect of living, as I was on bed rest for the last three months of my pregnancy, with a great deal of preterm labor.
After my boys were born, I had to return to work after only three weeks. My FMLA leave had run out, and I had to return to work, or submit my resignation. I managed to work a full time work week, pay a nanny to tend my newborn twins and five other children, and get about an hour of sleep at night, since I was also breast feeding. That lasted about three months until my job ended. Since then, I have been a SAHM. What a complete change!
We have learned this past year that Logan, my youngest, is autistic, has SPD, severe food allergies, and seizures. His issues are in fact so severe, that he can not leave home for the most part. I found out quickly who my friends were, as I started leaving home less and less, to take care of Logan and his needs. Some people were gone quickly. Others just kind of melted away after time. Still others are still here, and they call or come by to see how everything is going. They come to visit with us, and treat us as they always have.
I think, quite frequently, of those mothers from years ago. How much easier I could have made their lives by sparing only a few minutes to help them in the grocery store. I know this, because I had a good Samaritan do just that a couple months ago.
How much less stressful could I have made the situation, if as a young mother I had offered to help another mother who struggled in church?
I was not the friend that I wish I had today. Now, more than ever I know the value of a smile, or the relief that comes from someone gently taking my screaming NT child from my numb arms so I can comfort my autistic son, as well.
How very much I appreciate an unexpected meal showing up at my door, with a neighbor smiling behind the casserole dish. How many, many friendships I have missed, because I was so worried about not being “politically correct”. There are those that would say the situation I have with Logan now is karma. I would be inclined to agree with them, to a certain extent. Having Logan in our family has taught me to treasure the simplest things, and not to worry about other things that really won’t matter in the long run. How very truly blessed I am to be the mother of a special needs child. He has taught me far more in his little 2-1/2 year life that I was able to learn on my own in 34 years.
Caryn of Living With Logan is the stay at home mother of 7 children, living in Southern Utah and devouring all the knowledge she can in the speed of light. Her son Logan is diagnosed with high functioning Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. Logan also has unexplained seizures and multiple severe allergies causing him to maintain a VERY restrictive gfcfsfcf diet (gluten, casein, soy, egg and corn free).
What are your thoughts?
Look for more posts exploring friendships from various Guests through the month of January.