The other day Henry and Cate had a swim meet.
Here, I’ll just show you a picture:
Swim meets are loud, crowded events. I’ll know better next time, and have my bourbon beforehand, not after.
But anyway. Knowing this, we left Thomas with my parents for the night. He would have hated the swim meet. 180 kids swarming the pool deck. Parents everywhere, volunteering as judges, runners, ribbon writers, and concession workers. Total chaos.
Making the decision to let Thomas stay at my parents was the right one, of course. He had a nice relaxing evening of reading, steak dinner, just hanging out alone with the grandparents. But here’s the thing: I feel guilty for how much I enjoyed being a “normal” family while he wasn’t with us. You all know I love my son. But what I don’t love is the constant worry that having him with us in any given situation brings.
Case in point: A few weeks ago we took all the kids to see Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. (Don’t even go look up who stars in that movie or you will think I am a complete freak.) My kids all wanted to see it, so we headed to the dollar theatre. Just your run of the mill family outing. Unless you are the parent of a child with Tourette’s. Inside the movie theatre his tics became very loud. A half cough/half grunting noise that repeated itself every 30 seconds or so. What do you do? Do we pack up the whole family and leave? Promise to rent it sometime? Split up and just one of us take Thomas outside? He doesn’t even realize he’s making the noise, so how bad will that hurt his feelings? Eventually we decided that the movie itself was very loud, so if we just sat far enough away from the other patrons it would be no big deal. Lucky me–I was sitting right next to him, worrying myself sick about it the entire time. YOU try drooling over a hot teenager while your own child clears his throat constantly. (I’m kidding)
So that’s why I wasn’t wanting to take him to the swim meet. Things are just easier when you don’t bring a child with special needs. (In no way to I intend to insinuate that I understand what it would be like to have a child in a wheelchair, or some other medical disorder. I just mean, having him along puts a different spin on things). We went to the swim meet with just our two “normal” kids. And I enjoyed it. And it made me feel bad for enjoying it.
I spent the time and energy I’d normally invest in worrying about my oldest son doing things I never do. Whereas I would typically brush off my younger two kids–“you’re fine. don’t bother me. just do it.”–Instead I found myself coddling them. I was standing at the finish line holding warm towels to wrap them in, for God’s sake. I timed a snack break perfectly between their races in order to bring them pizza and gatorade, and then I threw away their trash for them. I ran back and forth from the swimmers area to the parent’s area, making double sure they knew which heat and lane they were in for every race. John openly made fun of me. Who was I? Since when did I worry about these two kids?
I enjoyed the hell out of it. And so did they. When I tucked them in later that night, they hung on my neck extra long. It was attention they had been craving. I cried myself to sleep thinking of all the times I rushed to tuck them in, brushing off their concerns, so I could get to Thomas’ room, because he needed to talk to me; needed my attention.
I’m a good Mom, but sometimes I just wish things could be “normal.”
Then the next day, my parents finally brought Thomas home. When I tucked the kids in that night, I saved his room for last, as usual. I perched on the end of his bed and we talked about our favorite book, and the new book he’s reading now. I shushed the “babies” on the way back to my room–they are forever giggling together in the bunk beds. They have each other, and Thomas has me.
And I realized: this is my normal. And it’s all good. Normal is just boring anyway.