Well hello there stranger!
You may have been wondering where I've been. Maybe not. You might not have even noticed I was gone for a while. You see, life got a little busy the last year and a half. We added a whole other person to our family and I suppose I was too busy to hear my own thoughts or sit long enough to write them down. But I want to keep this going, truly so here we go...again. Writing is cathartic for me but also an exciting part of my life. Life is complicated and beautiful and one of the great hallmark's of who we are as humans is friendships.
Friendships are complex. They bring joy, frustration, satisfaction and sometimes heartache. It's so important to foster and have friendships. That got me thinking...what about people with disabilities?
I'm sure the subject of Friendship has loooooong been on the mind of every parent who has had a child with a disability. I, for one, absolutely long for Wyatt to have valid, supportive, positive and genuine friendships when he gets older (not really all that different of a hope for either of my girls). But will all of Wyatt's friendships be true and genuine? Will people befriend him just because they feel "sorry" for him or because they want to make themselves feel better? Maybe, but I hope there are so many other friendship opportunities, too. Will he be able to reciprocate friendships and know how to be a good friend? I absolutely think he will be! He already is The Great Protector of his baby sister, covering corners of furniture when she gets close, pulling things out of her hands that she shouldn't have and blocking her from crawling into spaces she shouldn't go. So at 5, he already understands a great piece of friendship...protection. We all try and protect and stick up for our friends, don't we?
I think I'm not so worried about the childhood friendships that ebb and flow as we grow (there are a myriad of kids who have been termed "Wyatt's posse" at his school who totally have his back...it's awesome). But it's the friendships as adults that get more complex and it makes me wonder if those kids who love him now will continue to actively be his friend when he gets older. I also hope that Wyatt doesn't just have friendships with individuals with disabilities, but with people without disabilities as well. And for that to happen, we ALL sometimes have to be purposeful regarding our friendships with others. So I wondered...am I doing that? Am I purposefully seeking out others who are different that I am to foster relationships? Unfortunately the answer for me was no. I don't actively seek or pursue friendships with adult individuals with disabilities like I should. That one kinda hurt my heart. So I'm taking steps to change that. I'm inviting a woman who I know and genuinely enjoy being around, who has a disability and is my same age, to the movies. Not to brag or boast, but because I think she's awesome. And I want to be around her. And I think she's a beautiful person. I intend on fostering that friendship and taking purposeful steps to be her true friend.
Advocating for inclusion and disability rights is SO important, but as adults....are we really living it? And if you answer "no" to that question like I did, and are disappointed in that answer...then I encourage you to take one step to change that. It may change your life...and someone else's too.
And here...there's five of us now : )