I caught myself this morning wishing the most horrible thing – I wish our family was normal. What an awful, awful thing to think. We were sitting at breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants on our first full day of vacation.
The night had been a bit of a bust with Brooke refusing to sleep in her room with her sister. I woke up at midnight to find Brooke and Jess passed out on the couch. I moved them both to the main bed and crawled into Brooke’s bed where I lay awake for the next three hours.
Score one for sleep issues and epilepsy.
On the way to breakfast Brooke was in high anxiety alert, slipping quickly and “easily” from laughing to yelping and back again. Walking through town I couldn’t help noticing all of the “normal” families, their kids behaving or misbehaving in neuro-typical fashion.
Across the street from the restaurant, Brooke knelt down to pick a flower that was defiantly growing where the sidewalk meets the street. Jess warned her that she needed to back up because there was traffic and it was dangerous. Brooke yelped and then yelled.
I took a deep breath.
As we sat waiting for a table, Brooke began to lose the ability to cope with her environment. Jess asked for the iPad as a distraction, unaware that Katie was using it. Handing it over, Katie could not stop her pre-teen tween mind from sulking a bit.
Wasn’t this supposed to be a vacation?
I watched a family of six get seated. The kids were a bundle of voices, oscillating in volume, intensity and intent. There would be little screams from the littlest one (a baby), arguing from the older ones (maybe 9 to 11?), but it all seemed so “normal”.
And that’s when it happened. I caught myself wishing that my family could, at least for a week, even a day, be “normal”; and I hated myself for thinking that. Why couldn’t the debilitating anxiety Brooke suffers just go away for a little while? Why couldn’t she just be happy to share a room with her sister and have a “sleepover”? Why couldn’t Katie’s tween-angst be just that and not have to be peppered with having a sister she feels she can’t communicate with or even worse, who she at times resents?
As mad as I was at autism and epilepsy and tweenagedom, I was even angrier at myself for wishing “normal”.
Sitting at our table, Jess asked me what was wrong. My face had betrayed me. I waved her off. It’s nothing, I said. She didn’t believe me.
As soon as the food arrived my stomach took over, but I couldn’t stop myself from occasionally looking around, a feeling of envy creeping ever so slightly.
Breakfast done, the girls and Jess went for a walk, leaving me to pay the bill. I took a deep breath and sipped my coffee. A moment of calm amid the cacophony of a busy island restaurant. I almost began to cry.
That would have been the end of this sad post, but about 10 minutes later, I caught up to the girls. As we walked toward a toy store Brooke wanted to check out, Jess leaned over to me and said, “that was a little odd.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but just as she was about to explain, a woman came up behind us, gushing to Jess, “I just want you to know that I read your page and I get so much out of your blog; I’m a teacher and your writing has been so helpful!”
And for a brief moment I thoughts maybe there is a reason for all of this.