Just like any good sit-com, there are always lots of other characters that put in an appearance. I’m going to attempt to cover a few of those that are in my own personal show.
The Old Friends
As in I’ve known them for a long time, not that they are old. But as we are all now safely ‘in’ our forties, I guess we are getting old too. Lindsay and Sam are my two closest friends from college. They weren’t on the same course as me, but I met Lindsay when I worked in Tokyo Jo’s nightclub.
I wasn’t keen on Lindsay when I first met her. Although she had only started the day before me, she was very good at telling me what to do, and I thought she was very bossy. She still is very bossy, but it’s a trait I have grown to love. Sam was on the same course as Lindsay and I got to know her on nights out.
Sam is the kind of person you would love to hate, she looks like a cross between Cameron Diaz and Michelle Pfeiffer, she’s clever, funny and is good at everything she does, but you just can’t help but love Sam, she is gorgeous inside and out, both the ladies are.
They have supported me through break ups, break downs and Lindsay even forgave me when I drove her beloved car into someone else’s in the car park at work, because I hadn’t driven in years and had obviously forgotten how to do it. As in all good college relationships, they held my hair when puked, danced on tables with me all night and dressed up as a spice girl with me to win the freshers pub crawl when we were in our final year.
I don’t see them as often as I’d like, but when I do, the years melt away and we’re as close as we’ve ever been. They just get me, and love me just the way I am. Even when I lost the plot with Lindsay last year for not sending Erin, her Goddaughter, a birthday card. Rather than decide I was too high maintenance and tell me flip off, Lindsay recognised that both she and I hadn’t been ourselves of late and that we could both do better. Erin doesn’t have a Godfather, but has two Godmothers.
I’d already asked Nicola and as I mulled over a suitable person to take up the role of second Godparent, I just couldn’t imagine Lindsay not being in Erin’s life in that way. So, two Godmothers it was. She was also my chief bridesmaid, or ‘chiefy’ as she liked to be called when we bowed. Sam was my other adult bridesmaid, and I always laugh when I think of Sam refusing to swallow communion at the wedding mass as she thought she’d go to hell (she’s not catholic). Thanks to Whats App we are now in regular contact and I know we always will be.
When you have a child with special needs, you need a group of friends around you that you can share stories with, much like labour stories with your other mummy friends. Experts tell you to gather your Tribe, now I know why.
Your ‘tribe’, understanding all of the abbreviations like, SLT, ASD, OT, CAMHS, DCA etc. that your other friends would need a translator to decipher. They also understand how tough it is, as despite us all being firmly in the camp of ‘different not less’, we all fully understand that different is, bloody hard work and at times soul destroying.
I have learnt more from them, than any expert about what does and doesn’t work, where to get the stuff you need and how to fight for it. They live the life with you and they give the advice that really matters.
A few new ones joined the tribe last year and I’m delighted to share this journey with them.
I have lots of autism mummy friends (and a few dads) and we all get each other through. There is one in particular that I go to most of all, we are very different people, but she is my calming influence when it’s all falling apart.
The School Mummies
We all hear stories of competitive mums at the school gates in their SUVs and designer clothes, that doesn’t really happen in Leitrim, or if it does then, I’ve lost the will to notice or give a damn. There are a few of the Mummies that I have struck up good relationships with over the years and consider to be good friends.
We always gravitate towards each other at the play centre, and compare notes on the kids we don’t like much, and devise cunning plans on how to steer our own perfect little darlings away from them without turning into helicopter parents. There is one of these Mummies that I’m particularly fond of, you know the one, she makes a mean chocolate biscuit cake!
I live on a lane with about 40 houses, so neighbours can be very far apart. There are lots of really nice people on this lane, but some I am close to and consider friends.
I knew we’d struck gold with our next-door neighbours when on the day we moved in, Tonia knocked on the door with a bottle of whisky – result! She has great taste in whisky and men, I’ll never forget the sub-zero December night, when her husband Sean went digging in our front garden with Mick at 11 o-clock at night to find our pipes. They had frozen over and Patrick had ended up in hospital the last time that happened due to swallowing dirty water.
Acts of kindness is what Sean is well known for, but this particular one has always meant the world to me. They also have 3 lovely daughters who have acted as our babysitters and have always been a positive influence in our children’s lives. Let’s just say the apples didn’t fall far from the trees that are their parents. As well as being great neighbours, I am happy to also call them good friends.
With a family as big as Mick’s it’s impossible to have a close relationship with everyone, but there are a couple of the sister in laws that I get on really well with and always enjoy their company at family events – love you Ciara and Karen.
The Service Providers
That sounds a little bit superior. I certainly don’t mean it to, whilst they are people, I pay to go and see, they offer me so much more that nice hair and nails. Maisie always takes longer than she needs when doing my shellac, to let me whine about the bad days I’ve had since I last saw her. Edel, being a mum of 5 and owner of her own business, has no time for whingers and always gives me a much-needed kick in the arse when I’m sitting in the hairdressing chair feeling sorry for myself, closely followed by a cup of tea and a Twix. She also does a mean curly blow dry!
The Work Colleagues
Although now my only job is working 24/7 as a Carer to my family, in every job I have had there have been these important people. We may not have socialised outside of work, but are always on hand to bitch together about our bosses, the vendors we use or the photocopier running slow again. Plus, they’ll always make the right noises whilst cooing over another new top I bought in Penney’s at lunch time.
The Significant Others
I’m lucky to have lots of people I get on well with and consider friends. Whilst they aren’t in my inner circle, I always enjoy their company. Through work, rest and play I’ve accumulated many of these friends over the years and I am happy they are in my life.
I really must single out one friend in particular, we only became friends recently when she joined as a leader at the youth club. She really is the kindest person I think I’ve ever met.
Although she doesn’t have children herself, she always seems to grasp exactly what I’m feeling about my own and always offers words of wisdom that hit the spot perfectly.
She is always cooking dinners for other people and giving away the many prizes she wins in competitions. She is the luckiest person I’ve ever met. Thank you, Fiona, for the Taylor Swift tickets that gave myself and Saoirse an opportunity to make some magical memories, whilst ‘shaking off’ our woes.
Back in the sit-com of my life. All of these characters are what make every episode flow so well. Especially at the times when it’s more drama than comedy. I am a big believer in talking through life’s challenges and like a good bra, professional therapy is very expensive and if you don’t get the right fit, it’s a waste of money.
So, I am a huge advocate of ‘friend therapy’ it has sustained me more than adequately over the years, in between the professional sessions I have engaged in. We all can make a difference in people’s lives, big or small, every little helps!
To all of my friends.