In 2009 we had one thing in common- our daughters were both in Kindergarten. Only hers was in my class. Yep my best friend's daughter was in my Kindergarten class.
I knew that Josie was a single mom and that she was a student as well. She wanted a better life for her child. Somehow in the midst of her busyness she found time to volunteer in my classroom. She helped with mundane tasks and parties alike. We chatted here and there but nothing much until one day, almost a year later, she asked me if I wanted to go see the band "Earth, Wind and Fire" with her. I agreed and we have been friends ever since.
Josie is so different than me in many ways. She's a single mom. She's a grandmother to her older daughter's children. She works two, sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. She has made some choices that she regrets but even more that she can be proud of. One of the best choices that she made was to leave an abusive husband.
Here's the thing though- Josie s like family to me. She loves on my family and I like no one else. She never judges how I parent my child. Instead she's come alongside me and said, "How can I help?" Or "Oh your child needs a sensory break? Here she can hang out in my bedroom to chill out." She's one who I can call or text to pray for my family when Princess is having a rough day. She calls me just to say. "How's your day going? I'm thinking about you." She and her daughter, Princess J, pray for my family every single day on the way to school. Josie is teaching her daughter how to be a friend with a child on the Autism Spectrum and one with a mood disorder as well.
One of the things I love best about Josie is that she loves to cook for Princess and I. That often means that she's cooking a completely separate meal for my kid with food anxiety and sensitivities but she doesn't care. It gives her great pleasure to see Princess happy.
All of this is done while juggling her grandson on her hip, a cell phone at her ear and at least 4-5 other family and friends in her house at once. She is a master of it all.
It was very tricky when I had to go out on stress leave and subsequently resign from my teaching position. Initially I thought I'd lose my friend but we did a few things that really helped us through this. First we agreed not to discuss school politics. Secondly when I knew I'd be resigning, she said to me," We met at XYZ school but our friendship blossomed at my kitchen table." I cried big alligator tears when she said that.
Yep I have the most unconventional friendship ever but I wouldn't trade it for the world. This is one friend who came into my life and stayed. When things got ugly in my world, she didn't look the other way. Josie looked for ways to help and continues to do so. For this I am grateful.
My hope and prayer is that all parents of Special Needs kids can find a friend like I've found in Josie. They make our lives so much less lonely.
My Bestie and me at her kitchen table enjoying ice cream together.