Social Distancing; A Way of Life for Some

Social distancing. For a lot of people this is a new concept.

Being alone, nowhere to go, no play dates, no birthday parties, no big family gatherings…staying home alone seems to be make people very uneasy.

It’s hard and people are reassuring each other that “it’s just temporary“ and that life will go back to “normal” soon enough.

But for some of us, this has been a way of life for a long time.

What if this is your new normal?

I get it. I used to be the mom at preschool who wanted to be involved, who tried to plan play dates and get togethers with high school friends and their kids, imagining our kids growing up together and being friends too.

I imagined a house full of kids running around playing while parents sat and talked and laughed and shared drinks and stories…but when you make plans, life tends to make its own and they don’t always lead you where you thought you would be going.

My youngest son will be 13 this summer. A teenager!

It seems so impossible that so much time has passed and yet it seems like yesterday…another life really when I look back and remember life before.

You see my son changed us all. He changed our life for the better really, but it took me a long time to realize that. 

My youngest son was born on the summer solstice. He was my 3rd child and I thought I was a seasoned mom and knew everything.

My Irish dad said he would be magical. If only he knew how much.

But life with Brendan didn’t play out the way I expected and delays turned to disabilities and the life I had imagined faded away.

Brendan is developmentally disabled which makes him cognitively unable to keep up with his peers. He has ataxia which makes him physically unable to keep up with his peers.

He also has autism which creates behaviours that make participating in the world at large challenging to say the least.

So, the plans I had for this wonderfully social life and full house have slowly disappeared.   

As my son grew and his delays and differences widened, the invites slowly disappeared and we found the world a foreboding place to be avoided instead of enjoyed.

The reality of special needs parenting is that it is often a full time job in itself and there isn’t anything left to keep you trying and chasing.

It seems easier to just bow out and disappear then to keep trying to keep up with a world that spins further and further away from you when your world seems to just stand still.

It is hard to socialize with other moms when you can’t leave your child alone for a moment.

It is hard setting up play dates when you know your child doesn’t play.

It is hard when no one is seeking out you and your child anymore to come over and “hang out.”

But as I am learning and people are posting and reminding everyone…

Singing hasn’t been cancelled.

Fresh air hasn’t been cancelled.

Laughing hasn’t been cancelled.

Sharing time with family hasn’t been cancelled.

There is still so much to appreciate and enjoy. It’s just taken me a while to see it.

And my kid is a great kid who can teach all of us so much.

He lives in the moment, without hate or prejudice, and finds joy in the simplest of things.

He is what the world needs more of, now more than ever.

And maybe there is a lesson to be learned in all of this. Something good that can come from something bad.

My hope is that that people experiencing social isolation for the first time can understand what it’s like for those who live it every day.

That they remember and think of the little boy who never gets the party invite when planning that next birthday.

Or they encourage their children to sit with the girl at school who always eats alone cause she has no one to call a friend. 

Or the mom who would love to feel welcomed.

As your teenagers struggle with being bored and missing their friends, there are kids who live this reality every day, whose parent’s hearts break watching them.

Kids who no one is inviting to the mall or for sleepovers, who don’t go to parties or have anyone to even just talk too.

The world is full of lonely isolated people, from kids with special needs and their parents, to those struggling with mental health issues.

From those whose physical disabilities make many things we all take for granted inaccessible to those who just march to a different drum and don’t fit ‘the norm.’

So, when all of this madness passes, as it eventually will, and life gets back to normal, please try and remember to find a way to reach out and make sure everyone moves forward from this to a better day where they can be socially included.

In a world that remembers that different is not less and we all deserve to feel like we are part of something, that we matter, cause we all do, every single one of us has something to share with the world.

So, let’s come together to get through this and come out better people for it…each and every one of us.

Written by, Erin Ash

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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