I read once that the average amount of close friendships that most people retain from high school is one, and from college is two. I have no idea if this is true, but if it is I can consider myself very lucky. I've also read that women who maintain a circle of good friends have significantly less stress, are generally healthier, and may even live longer.
It is no surprise that women deal differently with stress than men do. Anyone who has ever been in a fight with a husband or boyfriend can tell you that. While men generally look for a way to fix things, women seek a net of emotional support. According to recent research, this has to do with ancient survival instincts -- for example, when the clan was being attacked by saber-tooth tigers, the men were driven to go out and kill it, while the women were driven to band together to protect their more vulnerable children and aged, as well as one another.
We may not be facing saber-tooth tigers these days, but I know that through lots of problems with big sharp teeth my friends have been there. By talking (and laughing) about what we have each been through, are going through, and what we have dreams and nightmares about, we're able to band together and find both comfort and protection from the wild unknown around us.
Last night I took a much needed break. I had the pleasure of enjoying an amazing dinner in a lovely restaurant with a group of even more amazing and lovely girlfriends who I've known since college. While enjoying the meal that none of us had to make or clean up, we were (of course) talking about parenting. Each of us checking in on each other's babies (even the really big ones), and sharing in the troubles and triumphs we've encountered since we were last together. One of my girlfriends recently had her first baby, and in talking about the experience of childbirth she compared it to being like "a frog in boiling water."
I have no idea if you've ever heard this particular colloquialism before, but I hadn't, and I just about snorted my Malbec when I did (graceful, I'm not). My friend went on to explain that some twisted biology experiment involves putting a frog in a pot of cool water, then gradually bringing it to the boil. Apparently, when the frog has the chance to adapt to the heat little by little, he never even notices that he's being cooked (until it is too late). By comparison, when you take a frog and chuck the little hopper into a pot of already boiling H2O, he registers the shock and jumps out in time to preserve his green little skin.
My friend was comparing this experiment to the gradual build of contractions.. saying that by the time you're ready to have the baby, you're okay with the intensity of the experience. I think I can go one further with this analogy and compare it to the entire arc of parenthood.
Little by little, through incremental events of crisis and conquer, we raise our babies to become adults. Real, hopefully well-adapted, fully-functioning PEOPLE. We find that situations which would have seemed impossible to bear, just a month or so before, become things we can cope with.
I know that for me, this is especially true. While sometimes it may seem that life with a child like Simon is a bit like a snowball turning into an avalanche barreling down a mountainside, it's really a bit more like being a frog.
The weeks ahead promise to be both challenging and enlightening. It will be our last week of the CIMT program at KKI. We'll be getting a more specific, formal diagnosis on the Sensory Processing Disorder, and recommendations on where to go from there. We have more evaluations to go through, for OT, PT, Speech and Neuro-Psychology. We have appointments with multiple doctors, and I need to schedule an MRI that I put off until after this program, to check in on the shunt, and the brain damage, and any sequella from the status epiliepticus seizure. I'll need to request a new IEP meeting with Simon's school, to share all my new knowledge and ask for their help in implementing recommendations into Simon's educational plan.
It may be getting hotter, but I'm adjusting. I wouldn't jump out even if I could. And to all my girlfriends (whether or not we've met) come on in, the water's fine.