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Atypical Friends

windows special needsI recently saw some great pictures come across my Facebook feed of a couple of families at the beach. The pictures showed kids hugging, leaning into each other, sometimes clad in swimsuits, and out on adventures. I had twinges of sadness and jealousy because we used to be close to one of the families. If our kids were typical, we’d probably be on a trip like that with them, posting happy kid pictures.

Changing family friendships has been and continues to be one of the tougher things for me to deal with as we navigate raising kids with special needs. While I know these friends would absolutely be there if we called upon them for whatever reason, they aren’t the friends that are invovled in our day-to-day world anymore, which brings me a lot of sadness but also teaches me an abundance of understanding and gratefulness.

We’re that family. The one some people avoid. Being friends with us is complicated and takes a great deal of effort sometimes. I completely understand why some people aren’t our day-to-day friends anymore.

We’re the high maintenance family, the one who requires a little bit extra, a little bit more in becoming and more importantly, staying daily friends. As our kids grew, it became easy to let the void of differences fill the space between us and for the friendship to change. While I know you can’t force friendships upon your and your friends’ kids to grow friendships of their own, it is possible to have a close family friendship.

Our kids are different. We have to parent differently than “typical” parents and our life can be intense sometimes, which makes it reasonable for friends who are unable to hanle all that requires to pull away from us, but it can get isolating and lonely, thinking of those early days when the differences weren’t so noticable.

As pictures of family friends from our past go across my screen, I feel a sense of loss, but also a huge sense of gratitude for the friends that are in our lives daily. The friends who know when to ask how I’m doing, and know when to just hug me and look at me with compassion and silence. I am grateful for the friends who show up time and time again, no matter how odd they know a child of mine might behave and I’m always relieved when friends don’t blame parenting. I love that some friends seek and see the goodness in our kids and thanksfully are not put off by the oddness of our kids.

There is something incredible to be said for stopping, taking a deep breath and appreciating what is in front of you and to not focus on what you don’t have anymore.

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