It's true that for a single mom, especially and older single mom, a social life among other adults is hard to achieve. By now, other adults are well into married life with their children older and busy with school activities, sports and other things that are very highly developed by now, such as music, art, acting and other talents. If my children had these skills, we'd automatically be in this group, single mom or not, and we'd fit right in. But...
Enter my girls. New to English, to America, to family life, even to themselves as they are finally free to discover that they aren't part of a heard of kids any more, but valuable individuals who now have the right to build themselves up and choose their own path, develop their own talents, etc...
Then, there are the special needs. They are significant and life-long in Jie Jie, less restricting in Apple, though she's endured 4 surgeries since being home. Blossom's special need is cognitive and I'll be honest right now because she's recently been evaluated and we are going to soon have more information and be making some changes, her cognitive issues are turning out to be significant. Sissy's issues are harder to identify. Sometimes it appears she's got a cognitive deficit, but at other times it just seems like "orphanage delay."
While other girls at church and school (when they attended) are friendly and polite to my girls, they are light years ahead of my girls in every aspect of life. Sure, we can go to their homes and bake cookies with them and even watch a movie, but when it comes to personal interactions that lead to deeper friendships, it's just out of my girls' ability range right now and they are fighting me when I try to encourage them to step outside their comfort zone and actually talk to someone.
Blossom just can't comprehend normally, so when I talk about finding out a persons' interests, and give her examples, it doesn't sink in. Once, she walked up to a girl outside a restaurant and boldly asked, "Did you do anything interesting today?" Another time she asked an adult we didn't know, "Do you go to church? Which church do you go to?" Different time, different adult, "Did you eat breakfast today? What did you have?" These were her opening words to these people. All an adult has to do is catch my girls' eye, say hi, and my girls are entranced and start what I call the fawning thing. The doe eyes, the too close physical proximity, things that an unaware adult takes for interest rather than a deep need for constant attention. Enter me, the mom who says no to letting my girls have a bag of fireworks and learn to set them off. Sure, they may appear curious, and on some level they definitely are, but it's about the attention the adult is showing them more than the fireworks. But I sure look like a mean mommy, over-protective mommy and I'm tired of it. I finally got too tired (after all, it was 10pm and my 3 yr. old was asleep in my arms and heavy) to explain to this poor fellow, took the bag, said thank you, got the girls home, set off three for them, hid the bag and the next morning gave it to My Firefighter to keep (he suggested he help us use them at New Year) so I don't have to worry that they'll find it and burn our house down and kill us all.
Essentially, by this age and stage, kids are able to go out by themselves, drive or at least be dropped off somewhere. While Sissy could definitely manage in a group, by herself she's still pretty helpless and doesn't have the drive to develop herself further. Enter me, the mom constantly pushing and pulling her to the next level. Feel the resentment from her from where you are? That's the normal teen thing, with a bit of nasty RAD topping it off. Blossom needs almost constant supervision. Lately, Jie Jie has made some pretty bad choices which means she also in under near constant supervision. To those outside (namely those at church) I look very over-protective. But the day I followed my girls into their Young Women's activity (making chicken soup for a sick member) and saw Blossom about to bring a chef knife down on her fingers as she was assigned to chop carrots, I was certainly glad I walked in. Fortunately, at the same moment, a leader who was close by saw the same thing and stopped Blossom in the nick of time. They then proceeded to try and teach Blossom how to use the knife safely. I've already given Blossom similar lessons at home, but with her cognitive issues, they don't sink in, so giving her a knife without CONSTANT supervision is downright dangerous. Some might argue that at least the leader noticed in time. Yes, that's true - this time. But what about the next time when it's something with more potential danger? Blossom is highly functioning. She's aware of her inabilities so she tries to hide them. This makes it dangerous for her to be with those who don't know to supervise her carefully. This puts a crimp in social activities. Who wants to babysit a 14.5 yr. old at an activity or event when the other kids can run off safely on their own?
Yes, most kids with steal. Yes, they will lie. Yes, they will do all kinds of naughty things. But most kids stop after getting caught a couple times and most kids feel bad about it - not about getting caught - but about breaking trust. Not kids like mine. My kids just feel resentful toward me and keep up the behavior, escalate it, and do it ALL THE TIME.
Me? My social life? Church activities. A few things with My Firefighter, who is struggling right now to decide how involved he wants to be with us, the girls' issues being the main obstacle, though not the only one. I can go to a book club, and it's an evening out, but not fulfilling like a social evening with a circle of friends with a little more mobility is. By mobility, I mean that the activities vary such as movies, dinners out, day activities like hikes, yard parties, games, bowling, etc... things where each person's interest is met through varied activities, not just one all the time. I think that a social life as a single parent is a common challenge particularly for single moms.
Our life isn't all bad. We had a good day yesterday. Our days are getting better, in fact, because I'm learning to recover faster from what my girls deal me. It's not rocking me like a giant earth quake any more. I'm like the air-filled punching bag clown - knock me down and I pop back up. I'm not getting as angry as often any more. Anger isn't something I'm used to feeling all the time and for awhile I was feeling it ALL the time.
I'm worrying less now, too. Blossom's need is such that I'm sure the recent evaluation will show that she will be eligible for help as an adult. This is a huge relief. I've got plans for the other girls, too. Hopefully, each of these changes will benefit each girl and our entire family.