I remember the last time I accepted an invitation to have cocktails with a group of mothers I had never met before. How awkward it felt. How I felt like I had a dirty secret when I didn't immediately disclose the fact my son has a disability and how seriously f*cked up it all seemed after I did. I actually felt horrible for days afterwards. See, I can't win. No matter how I approached it, the evening was destined to be a complete disaster of epic proportions. Oh the humanity! In the end, I was forced to listen to women describing the artistic journeys of self-discovery their children were on...learning to make independent films, discovering natural athletic abilities, winning a series of prestigious awards, selecting a lifetime mate, picking out the perfect hue for bridesmaids' dresses, and writing the Great American Novel at the same time!
All while I wished my son could climb a flight of stairs without using his hands.
Finally, they turned their attention to me, and I was asked what preschool my son attended. After a small anxiety attack and trying to avoid answering the question, I was finally encouraged to reveal the name of the school he attends, which was then followed by a long stretch of uncomfortable silence. They were perfectly lovely people, but we weren't trained to really deal with each other. Instead, they sipped their neat, fruity concoctions in martini glasses, and I flagged down the waitress to ask her to bring me yet another whiskey. My explanation, which had not been practiced enough yet to sound smooth and comfortable, only made things more awkward. I felt horrible for me. I felt horrible for them. Although I harbored no resentment towards them, it was obvious that we lived in different worlds. That we spoke different languages. I can finally accept that.
Life is different these days. I have found a freedom I suspect many mothers have never dreamed of. I fantasize about being envied for it eventually. I am proud to say that I can look back at these moments and (ahem) at least begin to laugh. It's true. Don't get me wrong. I still avoid these situations like the plague, as I am not into torturing myself or others, but if I find myself in the middle of them without any sort of warning, I can laugh about it later.
Because now I truly have a secret.
THERE IS NO NORMAL!
Once I realized that this summer, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Thank GOD! My good friend Laura, mother of beautiful Michaela, posted this, and I laughed. Long and hard. Watch the two women on the right.