I don’t like to admit this, but before I was Casey’s mom, I was a very shallow person. I spent a lot of time and effort making sure that I wore the fancy name brands, drove the cool car, went on lavish vacations, etc. I learned a lot from Casey, included what really matters in life.
Surprise: material things do NOT matter.
I was always very social and had lots of friends that shared my earlier shallow goals. When my priorities changed, some of my friends were very supportive and changed with me. Sadly, some were not. Some friends no longer knew what to say to me. They were so uncomfortable with my situation that they would avoid me all together.
It hurt, a lot. I thought they were my friends.
I tried to reach out to some of them early on and they would avoid my calls or always have a reason they couldn’t talk or get together. I would try to stay connected, but each rejection was harder than the one before.
It was happening with some family members as well. I remember feeling as shocked as I was hurt by their reaction. I struggled for a while trying to salvage these relationships.
Eventually, I realized that all the time I spent worried about what went wrong, or trying to connect with people that obviously did not want to connect with me, was time I was not spending with Casey, or other relationships that went both ways.
I was wasting a lot of time and energy chasing relationships with people that I no longer had any commonalities with. Once I realized how much effort I was wasting and how all my efforts resulted in more rejection and pain for me, I finally decided to stop. I did not pursue those types of relationships any longer.
I did not hold any anger or grudges either. Sometimes people have different priorities and live different lives. That’s okay!
I could spend time building on the relationships that helped me instead. Some of the relationships that helped me were old friendships and family, but some were new relationships. There is a special sisterhood between mothers of children with special health care needs. I have heard it called ‘Sisters of Circumstance’ many times, and I think it’s quite fitting. I have met some of my closest friends through my daughter.
I learned that if I was the only person interested in the relationship, it was probably time to walk away. I also learned that if a relationship was causing additional stress in my life, I didn’t need it. I had enough stress being a medical mom, I didn’t seek out any additional stress or drama. If people could not accept me for me, and my daughter for herself, they were the ones missing out, not me.
It’s a lot easier said than done, I know. When I committed to focus on healthy relationships and not to waste time on toxic or non-existent relationships, it was a lot of work. It took effort to retrain my mind to focus on different things.
Once I got the hang of it though, my life has been so much better. I had less stress and more time to spend on the relationships that matter. I know that the friends and family in my life now will be forever. I may not have as many friends as I used to, but the ones that I do have are real friends and I cherish each and every one of them.
Learn more about connecting with other parents and the difference it can make.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.