My DH and I rarely socialise with our kids. There are various reasons for this but I’ll briefly summarize the main ones:
Child 1 has ADHD. While he is no longer very hyperactive he is VERY loud and does become VERY excitable when there are loads of kids around. My DH and the rest of our family and close friends understand him and we actually don’t even notice it for most of the time, but it is difficult for new people and we get that. As far as possible I try to medicate him beforehand but it isn’t always practical, especially late in the afternoons or at night because then I’ll be dealing with an insomniac.
Child 2 has significant developmental delays and has recently been diagnosed with SID. My DH and I are trying (with lots of trial and error) to navigate this and to figure out what triggers sensory overload for him. If I know that there is A LOT of sensory overload at someone’s home or if there are many kids of the same age then I would rather not socialise with him.
I know that this is probably not the best way to deal with the situation but right now it works for my DH and I.
We rarely take our kids to visit people if we haven’t first “checked out” the setup and the few times that we did this (i.e. socialise with them on the first date) we got seriously burned!
Also, I am self-conscious about my children’s issues, ESPECIALLY if there are other typical needs kids (mine are essentially atypical needs kids) of the same age. It’s just painful for me and makes the differences between my kids and typical needs kids more obvious. Well, to me at least. I can’t cope with the questions and the looks and the whispers. And yes, I know that I should probably stop projecting and tell people to mind their own business but I’m still trying to come to terms with it myself so can’t always answer a lot of the “very thoughtful” questions.
Fact is, we do want to be invited back and I think our kids have the ability to ruin our social life. Sad but true.
I find that I just cannot relax when socialising with my kids, largely due the reasons that I’ve mentioned and also because I just see “danger” all around. Yes, I know I am paranoid and I’m working on trying to NOT follow them around people’s houses to prevent an accident of sorts. I’m working hard on trying not to be that “helicopter” parent and it isn’t really going well at the moment. My DH is much better at this than me.
My DH and I are a fun, awesome couple (if I must say so myself). Both of us can converse about ANYTHING and we have a variety of opinions on various matters. We make good jokes and we’ll even laugh at your jokes (OK I might not always get it but I’ll still laugh). We both have great manners and know our p’s and q’s. We don’t argue in public and even though we might have been fighting all the way to your house, you would never be able to tell.
We clean up well, we can party and we can do quiet dinners. We can do experience outings and we even camp now!
We can handle our liquor like professionals (well, he can – I’m usually the designated driver) and you would NEVER find either of us puking in your flowerbeds.
So I guess, what I’m trying to say is this:
If you want the best of me or the best of us, then PLEASE don’t invite our kids. Invite us ALONE. It’s just better for everyone. And if you do choose to invite our kids and we decline, then PLEASE don’t take it personally. Because really, it’s not you. It’s us.
Having said all this, if you really want the pleasure of our atypical needs kids, then invite us to a park. Preferably one with wide open spaces and no water, because kids around water literally sends me over the edge.
I know that some people find it easier to make friends once they have kids. That has NOT been our experience, though now that I think about it, we haven’t really socialised with parents whose kids have similar issues. Definitely something to explore during 2012.
Do you find that your social life has changed in a good way since you have kids? Do you find it easier to make friends after kids?
Because I have to say that I have NOT found it easy. I have to say that I often find Motherhood to be incredibly lonely (despite the loveliness of Twitter) and I often find myself fantasizing about how different things would be if I had typical needs kids. And yes, I know that things could have been so much worse. And I know that my kids are healthy and thriving despite the odds.
Some days this just doesn’t make me feel any better.