#HMWSN - An Invitation to Dinner
When my son was three years old, he started early intervention services at a place called Early Education Program. We met several kids there, but two boys with autism became his best friends. Their moms are some of the best human beings I have ever met. We found ourselves getting to school early so the boys could run and chase each other in the grass and we could visit.
I frequently have really mundane dreams. One morning I woke up with a dream about being at a bar with these two great women, listening to live music, drinking, and munching on bar food and laughing our asses off. Well, that morning, I went to drop my son off and we were chatting as we always do as our three special boys ran around squealing and having fun with their best friends. I mentioned that I had this dream that we were out drinking and listening to live music and snacking on bar food and laughing so hard. I don’t know if you know this about moms of kids with special needs, but we are get-shit-done women. One of the moms said “we need to make that dream a reality!” and before I got in my car to go home, we had scheduled a moms night out the following weekend.
I don’t know what you know about anxiety, but mine made it hard for me to sleep all week. I don’t go out,like ever. I had literally not been out in years, and I had never been to the place they wanted to go listen to live music. And also, I secretly believe that I’m super lame, and I live in fear that people who think I’m cool-adjacent will learn how lame I am and no longer want to be around me. As we got closer and closer to our “play date,” I slept less and less. Seven long days later, Saturday morning arrives, I am lying in bed, wide awake at 3AM, staring into the dark, wondering what the hell I was thinking, agreeing to some public group gathering. “They’re going to hate me. I can’t believe I did this.” But then, that Pollyanna part of my brain, the optimist who has fought so hard in therapy so that we can function, she chimes in, “but wait, what if it’s fun? What if it’s great? What if it is SO GREAT that you make it a regular thing?” I suspended my disbelief for a long moment in the dark, considering this option. What if it’s amazing? Then anxiety jumped in. “What if it’s so good that you become a squad? What if your squad needs a name and a cool acronym?”
My creative department started working overtime. I came up with the worst thing, but the only thing I could think of. Smacking my mental forehead, I stopped the whole thought process and chastised myself for thinking I could ever be cool. I knew that these women who thought they wanted to hang out with me - they could never know how lame I was. I made an oath to never, ever mention the name I came up with.
The day of, I was so anxious, I called in reinforcements. I reached out to a friend who I knew was a local musician who played at that bar. I asked her to tell me all the things, explaining that I had anxiety. She told me all about the crowd usually there, what the bathrooms look like, how the floor is laid out, and what to expect. I reached out to one of the moms and told her I didn’t think I could go - I have anxiety and new places are too new. She calmly said, “well, hubby and I are going to dinner there with our special boy tonight beforehand. What if you join us at the end, and we can start in the restaurant and slowly transition to the bar?” Leave it to a mom of a neurodivergent kid to know how to ease my neurodivergent brain into a new situation.
That night, I went. I met her and her husband in the restaurant as we had agreed upon. She squeezed my hand as we walked into the bar and claimed a high corner table. Our third friend showed up and the evening began. The music was good. The drinks were plentiful. The food was delicious. The company, though – the company was stellar – second to none. We laughed, we talked easily and fluidly, we compared experiences, and commiserated. We laughed our asses off.
It was even better in person than I ever could have imagined or dreamed. As we were waiting, all more than tipsy, outside, for one husband or another to come retrieve us and deliver us each safely home, I confessed my moments of anxiety. I told them about losing sleep, about knowing they’d see me as lame and never want to hang out again, about Pollyanna’s idea that it might be so great, which it was, so great that we may become a squad and need a cool squad name.. I told them about coming up with the worst squad name ever. They laughed and encouraged me to share. Their love and genuine appreciation for the weirdo that I am urged me to be even more myself and I finally gave in and burst out with what I came up with.
“HOT MOMS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS!”
And we all laughed so hard we nearly peed our pants. All three of us, standing there, legs crossed, bent over, faces hurting, bellies sore, laughing and laughing and gasping for air, and clinging to one another just to not fall over, and laughing again.
And then hubby shows up, looks confused, and asks what’s so funny, and we all shriek all over again.
The next morning, I wondered if they still thought I was cool. I logged onto social media and one of my new best friends, she had posted a selfie we took the night before. She had captioned it:
#HMWSN 4 ever!
Sometimes, you find your people in the strangest of places, in the most unlikely of situations, through trials and tribulations, you find your people. And they make the world a better place.