To my friends with neurotypical kids:
I love spending time with you. I’m grateful for every conversation, every drive, every meal. We share laughs and stories and secrets, and I take none of it for granted.
I am also keenly aware of the ways in which I don’t quite fit in.
When you’re proud of your kids’ accomplishments in sports or music or dance, I can smile and cheer along with you, but I can’t relate. My son’s interests are far different.
When you’re complaining about packing lunchboxes, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I dream of creating fun lunches, but my son will not eat them.
When you’re enjoying your child’s birthday party, I am trying my best to enjoy it too, but you might catch a worrisome expression on my face. I’m watching my son like a hawk, holding my breath, hoping nothing stimulates a meltdown.
When you invite us to [fill in the blank] and we decline without a clear reason, I’m not being vague to be rude. I’m either sparing you details or protecting my child’s dignity. Sometimes I’m doing both.
I want you to know that for every detail I share, I’m holding back 100 more.
I want you to know that I’m not a worrier, but I’m always aware of your eyes and wondering what thoughts lie behind them.
I want you to know I never belittle your parenting struggles, but sometimes I resent the fact I can’t tell you mine.
I want you to know I love you and your children, yet being around you sometimes makes me feel alone.
So, why are we friends?
You and I still have so much in common.
As much as I need friends in my life who understand autism parenting, I also need friends who don’t. I need friends who don’t talk about special needs on our dinner dates. I need friends who see all of me, not just parenting me. I need friends who share my interests, humor, and faith. I need friends who push me to excellence and also allow me to make mistakes. In short, I need you to remind me who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming.
If you ever think, “She looks put together; she must be ok,” know that most of the time I am, but sometimes I am not. I can’t always tell you what I’m going through, even though I would like to.
I need you. You need me. We’re friends because our Creator designed us for fellowship and community, and somehow you and I found each other and clicked. I love you, even though I don’t always fit. Thanks for being my friend anyway.