When we were first told that Eddie was blind, I could not stop comparing him to other children his age. As many parents will tell you in my same situation, you almost have to disconnect yourself from your child’s peers. Most of us hide out in our homes and make midnight jaunts to the grocery store. This time period of isolation varies per parents…it can be days, months, years, or sadly, forever.
For me, it was somewhere between days and months when I realized that if I wanted friends at all, for me or Eddie, I had to come to grips with who my son truly was. Living in a rural town, I was never going to meet a young mother with an infant son who happened to have Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. I certainly met other parents who had children with special needs, but we didn’t fit quite right with them either. Just because another family was in the “special needs club” didn’t mean we were automatically going to be best friends. My old friends truly were my best friends and I had to make a decision to embrace them.
This meant not just embracing them, but also their children. It is incredibly hard to listen to your friends discuss the “terrible twos” when your child isn’t even moving independently at all. At first you want to shout, “Quit complaining…you have it so easy!” This will probably clear out a room and your social calendar in record time. What I had to realize was their children’s mishaps were just as big a part of their lives as Eddie’s developmental delays were to me. I had to stop comparing our horror stories because it truly was like comparing apples to oranges.
You see, we all have struggles in our lives. To be a good friend, I had to appreciate things from perspectives other than my own. I had to realize that every mom gets overwhelmed, and for reasons just as valid as mine. Many times, I’d rather deal with the mishaps in my own parenting adventure, which I vaguely understand, than those of my friends, which can completely astonish me, just like Eddie.