The Gift of Mommy Friendships
As Mother’s Day approaches, I want to thank all the special moms who supported me through the years. Parenting a neurodiverse child is challenging and makes it difficult sometimes to find understanding friends. When I was struggling, long before my child’s ADHD diagnosis, two moms stepped forward and gave me hope and the gift of friendship. This blog is in honor of them.
As a new mom, I felt utterly alone. My husband and I had pulled up stakes and moved to a suburban town away from our friends and family, miles away from the city we’d called home. When our daughter Lee was born, she came into the world with colic, crying day and night. At three months old, the colic improved, but Lee was still restless. Her body was in perpetual motion. I signed up for a Mommy and Me class, desperate to meet some other moms and be reassured that things would get better.
At a nearby shopping center, I found the address and walked through the door. A quiet lullaby on a guitar floated down the hall. Following, I saw a filmy, gold curtain that was parted to the side. I stepped past it into the class, but Lee was too fast. Her tiny hand shot out, grabbed the curtain, and gave it a good yank. Heat rose up my cheeks as glossy folds draped over my feet.
Stopped in my tracks, I stood frozen. “I’m so sorry.” Startled moms tried to catch their babies who were now crawling toward the gold.
“Hi, I’m Miss Lily,” the teacher said. She grasped an escapee and plunked him back into his mom’s lap.
Lee was crying and kicking me, stretching her arm down for the curtain. Gripping her tightly, I pulled Lee up and took her into the circle of moms. They shushed their babies and made room for us on the worn, burnt-orange carpet. All around me they sat, looking well-rested in their clean sweatpants and fresh T-shirts. Looking down at my old leggings, I spotted the remains of Lee’s milky formula on last night’s shirt. I was the interloper, the one who didn’t have any right to ruin their class.
“Sit down, please.” Miss Lily’s polite voice covered up a bubble of impatience that threatened to pop.
My legs quickly folded under me, as Lee’s feet kick-boxed me in the stomach. Miss Lily played a soft chord on her guitar and the other babies quieted down, resting in their mothers’ laps. Murmuring soothing words into Lee’s ears, I tried to ease the kicking legs into a sitting position. Her teeny fists beat on my chest in time to my pounding heart. Whimpers gave way and she let out a piercing scream, encouraging the other babies to follow and drown out the guitar.
It was the longest thirty minutes of my life. Lee refused to sit still, and no amount of music, toys, or fairy tales could capture her attention. She wanted that gold cloth, and she wanted it now. Her cries punctuated every guitar strum and story Miss Lily read.
When class ended, I hopped up, ready to bolt, my squirming bundle under my arm. She just needs time to mature, I told myself, swiping at an angry tear on my cheek. The calm collected redhead who’d been sitting next to me with her cute, blonde baby boy grabbed me by my hand. “Wait.”
I whirled around and said, “Don’t worry, we won’t be back.”
“I hope you’ll change your mind. I’m Lindsey and this is Tommy. You look as though you could use a cup of coffee. May I?” She reached out for Lee, handing her baby to me. I took the docile, cooing boy and held him against my chest. What a difference, I thought. I started to soften.
“Look, we have the same color hair!” Lindsey pulled a strand of her own hair down on top of Lee’s head. “I’m jealous. You have a feisty, wild ginger who would do me proud. I think I have your baby.”
Another mom, with inquisitive eyes and warmth in her smile, walked up to us. She said, “Or you can have mine. Hi, I’m Kate.” She grabbed her car keys from her baby girl’s fingers. “Molly, enough already.” Her eyes grew wide as her baby grabbed the keys back.
Lindsey laughed. “Are you coming with us? Molly can drive.”
That cup of coffee led to many years of playdates with Lindsey, Kate, and their children. They gave me the gift of friendship, embracing Lee with unconditional support when she was diagnosed with ADHD. Parenting a neurodiverse child comes with many challenges and making friendships can be one of them. But letting go of my insecurity and the fear of being judged gave these two beautiful women a chance to come into my life. It was the best gift I could have received.
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