I’m Not an Eternal Optimist

Sometimes I think that people who read this blog think that I’m an eternal optimist. I definitely don’t think of myself as an optimist. I consider myself a realist. For me, part of being a realist is trying to avoid looking at the world through disability-colored glasses. I think everybody does it from time to time–assumes that what we’re going through is tougher than what anyone else is going through. It’s natural.

The other day Hubby was talking about one of his co-workers kids–saying how much easier he thinks it is for him. He tells me, “they just bought him a car that he can steer.” And while I’m sure that there are things that are easier when your child is typical, far be it from me to make any assumptions about someone else’s situation. And honestly? These people live in an apartment. The idea of a two year old in a motorized vehicle in an apartment is horrifying to me. Think of the wall damage.

I’m sure I do it too.

The other day I went to our local, mostly-accessible playground for a birthday part with Charlie. I brought my MIL along because Charlie pretty much needs one-on-one attention and I was hoping to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen in a while. My MIL was on one of the big swings with Charlie in her lap and I was sitting at a picnic table alone, just watching them. A woman sat down next to me with her daughter who was at least five, with very low tone riding in a Maclaren stroller. You can never be completely certain, but I was pretty sure the child was disabled.

I smiled broadly at the woman and her child–excited to be around a fellow special needs parent. The woman ignored me. “Hello” I said in my warmest, friendliest voice. “Hello” she replied, resisting any sort of eye contact, keeping her gaze firmly on her other daughter and husband who were playing on the swings. I continued to look her way, trying my best to look friendly and open-minded.

In the end, I never really talked to her. She pushed her daughter away, and I never got up the courage to say anything else.

So I wonder. . . is the disability thing as isolating as it sometimes seems? Am I open to meeting other people who might be open to Charlie? Or am I too busy playing Mama Bear to give anyone else a chance? Do I sometimes miss an opportunity because I’m scared of being disappointed?

I’m not an eternal optimist. . . but I do play devil’s advocate and I wonder. . . are there things I could be doing differently?

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  1. Hmmmmm Katy, Good point to think on! I think I adapt alot to how others seem to act when we are around. If we are out and someone starts staring, blatently staring, I give evil looks and sometimes say things. But if someone seems friendly or curious, I don't hesitate to talk about Faith's conditions. We were at the store the other day and the woman behind me kept talking to me, after I checked out she saw Faith, her wheelchair. She came around and said "Your daughter's in a wheelchair!" I instantly tensed up but then she said "I have a granddaughter and DIL both in wheelchairs, we love wheelchairs" Then the girl who checked us out, who we see often and is always nice to Faith, it opened the door for her and she asked what happened to her and I was able to explain about babies and strokes. Neither woman knew kids could have them. Very interesting!

  2. I guess I'm like vulture….I wouldn't have let her get away! haha

    I love meeting other families with special needs kids…I would have bugger her asking a million questions….
    And probably ended up inviting her to scrapbooking!

  3. I think you walk a fine line. You don't want to offend anyone by asking if their child has a disability (or in my case premature) but you really want to know, to talk to someone who's in a similar situation to you.

  4. Your brain is one of my favorite things in life to look into. You always have such intriguing, thought-provoking posts.

    Everybody compares. EVERYBODY. When we go somewhere, we judge ourselves and our kids against what we see around us. We're human, it's what we do.

    Sure, it's easy to say 'I should be grateful for X or Y or Z' because Fred Q. Smith has it WAY worse than we do. But that isn't how we function, it isn't how we roll.

    And I get it.

    A friend of mine, and a good one, once commented to me privately about one of the blog posts I had written. This was when Bennett was seizing all the time. I was at my wit's end, we didn't know about the tumor yet.

    This friend has tried to get hiw wife pregnant for probably going on 7 years, and his wife has had 4 miscarriages, the last one this year, and the longest term. So my friend and I are talking about Bennett and he says to me, and I shit you not…"I would give anything to have what you have."

    Was I mad? Nope. It made ABSOLUTE sense to me. Because from where he sits, that's HIS truth, that's HIS life.

    I have so totally lost my train of thought here. What was my point? I think it was that it's OK to compare…sometimes I think it might even help to OPENLY talk about it. That may be radical, but I think that often talking about something in the moment is a good thing.

  5. Speaking of meeting new people…lol. I'm new to this blog but was browsing today b/c apparently our whole house is quarantined and sick with the
    %#@&%# swine flu. Grrr. Why is God cursing us so? (I'm not an optimist)

    Anyway I belong to a CP message board and we had an interesting discussion once about how we react to strangers asking us questions in public. A lot of the moms said they didn't like when people would come up and ask questions b/c it's none of their business, and I was surprised by this.

    Usually I'll see people looking at my son in church or the store or wherever, and I WISH they would just come up to me and ask/start a conversation if they're curious. Especially because there was so much I didn't know about CP before my son was diagnosed and I'm thinking, all these people who encounter us are probably just as misinformed or underinformed.

    Other times I'll see another kid in a wheelchair and I'm totally staring thinking "okay, what brand of chair is that? What other stuff are they using? How is the mom getting around?" Especially if they are in a parking lot I want to see what kind of car they drive and types of special carseats they use…hm…ok maybe I'm just nosy?

    Anyway after talking to all these other moms I don't really try to initiate with other moms anymore when I meet them randomly like at a park or something, because I think "maybe they're not like me, maybe they really don't want to meet new people or talk, etc."

    To a certain extent I think we have a responsibility as we go about our lives in the community, to educate the community about these medical conditions, to be advocates and ambassadors mainly. I don't think we can really opt out of it mainly because we are so conspicuous when we're out in the world at church or the park, etc.

  6. Kyra–I'm more like you. I'm more than happy to talk about Charlie, his diagnoses, etc. And honestly, I dont' mind some stares. I really think that people will see how cute Charlie is if they spend some time looking at him rather than looking away quickly to avoid being rude. I guess everybody's different.

  7. I totally get what you mean, but can't quite put it into words right now. So I'll just say, your blog is very interesting, and Charlie is a very cute wee chappy. :)