This week has been bittersweet at our home. My daughter’s BFF is moving and she is not happy. Her BFF also has Down syndrome and their friendship goes back some 14 years, just like her mother’s and mine.
Karen and I met over the phone. At that time I was working as an advocate for Specialized Training of Military Parents (STOMP) an organization that provides information and resources to parents of Military families of individuals with disabilities. Their family was moving to where we were stationed and they wanted information and resources.
The first time Karen and I met in person, my daughter and I were at the military hospital pharmacy picking up our medication after an appointment. Karen says that she saw this beautiful little girl with Down syndrome, well-behaved, minding her manners and said, “This has to be Adriana and her daughter, I have to meet her in person.” This was the first time our girls met as well. Medicine in hand and an hour later, we were still talking and getting to know each other, laughing and sharing stories. We have been friends ever since.
Many moms of children with disabilities talk about having another mom to talk to, a mom that has a child with the same disability as yours. A mentor mom so to speak. Someone that would be able to give you a peek into the future of your own kid. This person may also give you strategies, some wisdom, experience and support. Additionally that person could become a real friend, someone who as we say, “Has been there, done that, got the T-shirt and wore it out.” We all need a friend, mom or not, that can be there for us that understands what we are going through, someone who can give us out of the box ideas, suggestions, be a sounding board for feelings, struggles. take the kids when you need a nap or just a cup of coffee.
So many of us struggle with watching our kids not have friends that when it happens it is a magical moment and we want that to last forever. Our two girls have had a wonderful time being friends, doing all the things typical or typically developing friends do. They love going to restaurants and having a meal together, shopping. These two enjoy a day of girly things like going to the salon getting their hair done or sitting for a Mani-pedi, and did I say shopping? It is fun watching them go shopping and looking at the same things and pointing at the cute boys. Picture time is a game of who can do bunny ears on each other the fastest, like I said a true friendship.
All week we have been helping my friend and her family with their move by having the kids over at our place. This has provided great opportunities for the girls to be together and enjoy each others company before the big day. After her friend leaves Adriana will come to us and say: “I don’t want her to leave! I am going to miss her!” I remind her that when daddy was in the military we too would pack up and move but that didn’t mean that we would forget our friends. I remind her of other military families we have met and are still friends with. I have always told my girls that their feelings are their own and validated how they feel. That nobody can deny what they are feeling.
It does break my heart to see her so sad and angry at the same time knowing there is nothing I can do to stop this from happening. At the same time it makes me very happy that she has this wonderful friend.
Karen and I are very good friends too We have bonded over midnight chats when her hubby was deployed and I was working on my MBA. There has been lots of love, support, jokes, and encouragement . Karen and I roomed together may times while traveling when we both worked at STOMP and later on when she was one of our workshop volunteers, so it is no wonder that our girls are also tight. She learned to take care of Adriana’s diabetic needs, how to do blood glucose tests, change her infusion set for her pump and was there for us when I was traveling for work. Both of us also know that what our girls have is a very unique friendship and we want to do everything possible to give them the opportunity to continue to be in contact and foster this friendship.
Here are some of the ideas we have come up for our girls to be in contact:
Here are some of the pictures of this beautiful friendship. They will be gone from our town, but not from our hearts. Safe journeys to my friends wherever you may go.