You know that new-date feeling when you spend time alone with a Potential New Friend and you’re not sure yet if you’re going to really be friends? Please say yes, because otherwise I’ll feel really weird.

One of the first lessons I learned as a parent of a child with special needs is that just because someone has a child with special needs does not mean we will be BFFs.

It’s a weird feeling, because in some ways you feel so inextricably connected to another mother who has a child with the same disability as your own child. You share so many of the same fears and joys. Your kids may even love playing together (alternately, you might want to be BFFs until you realize their child is pummeling the heck out of yours… rats!).

Raising the bar on friendship

One recent weekend afternoon, I met a Potential New Friend at possibly the happiest place on earth: a nail salon with an open bar. (Right? How have I never found one of these before?!)nail polish and cosmo

I arrived first and marveled at women sitting at the “nail bar,” getting one hand manicured while holding a chilled glass of definitely-not-water in the other. “This is why I only get pedicures,” I thought.

As I nestled into the comfortable pleather spa chair, I kept an eye on the door. Potential New Friend and I had texted our coordinates; she would arrive shortly.

Suddenly, across the room, I saw her... wearing a New York Yankees hat. If it had been a real date, that one accessory would have been a deal-breaker. Look, I’m from outside Boston and dated a Yankees fan, just once. Quite frankly, we’re each lucky to have departed the relationship with eyeballs intact.

But Potential New Friend Dates don't weigh accessory gaffes as heavily as Romantic Dates (and, oh yeah, I'm married).

Because it's not all about Down syndrome

After the obligatory good-natured exchange over the hat, we settled into an hour of cool drinks, super-hot stone massage and solid, steady conversation. The best part? We didn’t spend the whole hour discussing Down syndrome.

That may sound callous, but sometimes, I really just can’t spend another moment of my day thinking, talking, celebrating or worrying about Down syndrome.

That may sound callous, but sometimes, I really just can’t spend another moment of my day thinking, talking, celebrating or worrying about Down syndrome. The truth is, enough days include all that and more.

Sure, we talked about schools and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), but those were mere stitches in a diverse quilt of topics covering our lives in general, from work stress to kid stress to spousal stress (some topics we covered more thoroughly than others).

We laughed. We empathized. When we went our separate ways, neither said, “OK, I’ll call you.” 

Now I'll wait three days, then set up a date to see if our husbands click, too. Stay tuned!

Read more about girl time

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Beyond spa days: 4 Unique ways to spend girl time
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