Special needs

The importance of connecting with old friends

Anchel reflects on how her pre-baby group of friends helps her re-energize and connect with who she is.

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Photo: Anchel Krishna

Every once in a while I think back to my pre-kid days. Life was simpler, my schedule was way less busy and I wasn’t in charge of another person. But now that I have a kid, almost every part of my day and every part of my life is linked to being a parent.

From our first cuddle of the morning to the last appointment I schedule for her at 11 p.m., Syona is the key factor in determining my world. And that is, in many ways, the way it should be.

Syona’s cerebral palsy means she has extra needs, and that means there are extra things I need to factor in as a parent—balancing a hectic schedule, extra financial pressures and the adaptations we need to make to our everyday lives to ensure that she can participate as fully as possible.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed and feel like my whole life is solely focused on being a parent and on my child’s special needs. But every once in a while there is a little voice in my head that pipes up to remind me that it’s time for a break and a moment to connect with who I am as a person, outside of my roles as mother, caregiver, wife and all around family-woman. And that’s where friends who knew me before I was all these things come in.

My new January tradition is an annual get-together with a group of lovely ladies I’ve been lucky enough to call friends for more than 15 years. Since we don’t see each other very often and live all over southern Ontario, we organize a good old fashioned sleepover. Dilip and Syona head out for an overnighter at his brother’s place so she can spend time with her cousins, and my friends descend on my home.

We spend lots of time catching up on events of the past year. We talk about the good: new babies (not mine!), fun vacations and great family moments. The bad: divorce, marital woes and health issues. And the ugly: how kids who turn into little monsters when transitioning to school. But there’s also this magical thing that happens—we spend lots of time reminiscing and laughing about our time together in our younger days, before life got heavy. We allow each other to remember who we are outside of the responsibilities of everyday life. We remind each other to bring that lightness to our routines. And we re-energize each other so that we can continue to enjoy all the responsibilities we will face the next day.

It just serves to remind me that who I am as an individual shapes who I am as a parent, and, ultimately, who we are as a family.

How do you keep in touch with old friends?

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