March 14, 2014

Not Get Over it, Get on With it

There is rarely a time that I am not mindful of what I say in a social situation.  I am constantly monitoring my conversation to make sure it is not too, you know, "Special".  I don't want to tire people of my talk of Bridger -- people may want to hear what you did that week but I have learned that they don't want to hear it if it was 10 hours of doctor appointments and therapies, 6 hours of IEP prep and meetings, 2 sleepless night, 3 vomit episodes and the 4 bottles of salsa that your son kicked off the shelf at the grocery store as your other child pushed him in his wheelchair while you managed the grocery cart.  So what's left -- the hole in my sock.  I can talk about that.  This fear of what to say and not to say, and in what quantity and detail is on the mind of most special needs parents.  Many of us used to be fun, social people and now find ourselves unsure if we are supposed to go back and find that same carefree social fluency we once had or resign ourselves to be good listeners to the raving chatter about the latest home accessory find from the social company we find ourselves in.  At times a piece of the "old me" comes out and I can talk about the new color scheme for this year's fashion trend and it is indeed refreshing.  But most of the time during such conversation attempts I am thinking that I can still smell the morning's vomit on my shoulder, and that I hope the important call back from the doctor doesn't come while I am in the bathroom, and the realization that I only had time to put mascara on one eye.  Yes, I fully own that becoming a special needs parent included a free pass to becoming a social oddity.

I will never forget a dinner I was having dinner with some girlfriends a while back - trying to exercise my same caution in my choice of words that I usually do.  I apparently failed in my efforts, however.  As we were taking the check to the register and I must have let the word "Bridger" escape my lips one too many times and one friend touched my arm and said, "You just got to get over it."

Get over it? I inwardly chuckled.  It is my life. Every aspect of my life is directly affected or otherwise indirectly touched by it.  It's like telling someone who wants to have breath to get over it.  It is me. No, I can't get over it, but I can get on with it.  I am taking this special package that affects what time I wake up every morning, what I do every minute of the day and what order I do it in, that affects what earrings I wear or how I do my hair, that affects my constant mindfulness that the toilet seats are always down, front door is locked and stairs gates are closed despite the constant traffic of children going in and out, that affects what I spend my money on (or don't spend my money on since Bridger's annual unreimbursed medical expenses are the cost equivalent of a couple of new cars), that affects how I physically feel each day and if I am able to stand upright, that affects what car I can drive or where I can park, that affects what volume I am allowed to speak without evoking screams, what room I can be in in my house, that affects building in 30 extra minutes into my schedule whenever I have to leave the house and affects how long I can stay at a store or even what stores I can go to, that affects what restaurants I can go to or what vacations my family can take or the attention I must pay to every 1/2" offset in whatever floor or ground surface I walk on, that affects if I can talk on the phone or have play dates over for my other children, that affects what I eat and when, that affects if I can leave a door open or a glass on the table or a shoe in the middle of the floor, that affects if and when I can go to bed and for how long I can sleep. . . and I am getting on with it.  You see, all of that has made me a different person and I am still getting to know her.  So in the meantime, please don't start twitching if I talk the special talk one too many times at dinner, and please laugh at my story of Bridger shattering salsa jars all over the grocery store (I am finally able to laugh at that too.) Special needs parents are really trying to avoid finding themselves constantly tongue-tied, but back in the world of jovial social conversationalists.  Be patient.  We will get there. We will get on with it, not just over it.