I’m a group-y kind of girl. I always have been. No, not that kind.
I love the village of my girlfriends that I get to live in from time to time. Were it not for my girlfriends or fellow mom friends, I would not be as validated, or as encouraged, as I need to be. In fact, you probably would not want to be around me. Because my true girlfriends challenge me to be the best me, at the same time they accept and love me as I am…a flawed mother just trying to do the darn best I can.
And I must say—I have a fantastic-keeper-of-a-husband, but husbands are not girlfriends, and they are not meant to be. It’s just not fair to expect that from them. They are, well, different from us. (I may get in trouble for saying that…)
Women need women. Mothers need other mothers. The friendship of fellow women and fellow moms, the camaraderie, and the i-get-you-and-you-get-me-ness is absolutely priceless. There is a warm, friendly feeling when we girls commune and gab, gab, gab, uninterrupted by children screaming in the background, like when on a phone-call with a friend. We feel understood and we offer validation to one another. Not to judge or compare or criticize. We do that enough to ourselves don’t we?
ESPECIALLY in the special needs game that I am in.
And in the same vein, couples need couples in their corner. Families need other families. I say this, again, especially as parents of children with special needs. We just “get” that all families with special needs kids have gone through some excruciating journey. Without having to say much, there’s an instant bond, as “we’re fellow survivors.” Like being in a foreign country and running into someone from our hometown, and there’s this huge moment of comfort and identity all wrapped together.
Although each of our journeys may be a little different, or a LOT different, there is a bond of compassion and empathy. We all understand the cycles of grief, of blow-your-mind frustrations and stresses. And oh, the victories in achieving milestones…how they mean so much, vastly more than in our “typical” children sometimes. (And we don’t want to admit it, but we feel it inside.)
I am eternally grateful for my two special needs moms groups—one within the PWS community and one within my school district. Neither one is formal. There are no dues required. No rules. Anyone is welcome. We don’t have to ACCOMPLISH anything. We schedule a dinner out periodically at a very yummy restaurant (this part required) and just be. Together. “Moms’ Night Out.” (This goes for my “regular girlfriend moms” and “non-mom girlfriends” as well, by the way. You know who you are and how I treasure you so so so much!)
And maybe these nights out feel so good because they are nights OFF. A break from the intensity, the demands, the needs, the food schedules, the questions, and the nighttime growth hormone shots.
We share laughs sometimes till our drinks come out our noses…then we share tear jerking stories till you know what comes out of same noses. Venting, sharing, encouraging each other along. We snort and make snarky comments…about the thousands of questions our children are ALWAYS asking. We have drinks and delicious entrees. I learn and grow so much from the other women and their savvy in getting what their child needs, through the school or the regional center. I am inspired anew to be more calm, calm, CALM, and patient in my hectic hamster-wheel life.
Every time I drive away from a “Moms’ Night Out,” I relish in the feeling that I am not alone. We are not alone.