Monday, October 1, 2012

View from the Sidelines

I had an opportunity to sit among the “normie” moms this week. It was an eye opening experience, to say the least. It reminded me of the bullet I dodged by having special needs kids. Confused? Let me explain:

“Normie” moms are in competition with each other. Over everything. The number of kids they have, the number of sports each child plays – and how many of them are in the All-Stars League or on the “A” Team, the number of games to make on a weekend, and the number of miles they put on their mini-van each week.

“Normie” moms want to let you know how tired they are. How busy their lives are dragging their brood of various age and sex to a myriad of extra-curricular activities. They do violin, soccer and a different travel league soccer, Pop Warner football, cheer leading  swim, gymnastics, oh my. They have home games, away games, travel games, tournies, and play-off games. But, you know, they are only one person. They can’t possibly attend every practice or game for every child. They must depend on other over achieving, helicopter moms to carpool. They depend on others to help them with their kids. They help the others with their kids, too; of course, that just adds to their horrible mommy burden that they gleefully share and then try to one-up with the other moms who care.

My first thought upon hearing the latest round of Busiest, Sportiest Mom Competition was, “You know that shit is optional, right?” 

I mean, the odds that Johnny will go on to play quarterback at their alma mater are infinitesimal. Ditto with Suzy the Olympic gymnast hopeful. Guess what? It’s much more likely that this is what is going to happen: a career-ending ACL tear for Johnny at the tender age of 12 and amenorrhea, body image issues and a broken collarbone for Suzy. 

What no one seems to be talking about is homework. No one talks about staying up all night and helping Benji put together a physics project. No one talks about taking Amy to volunteer in a homeless shelter. And no one is talking about eating dinner together as a family. It’s rushing here and there, eating in the car, not having time to talk to or enjoy their kids – except the time spent zooming to and fro in the mom mobile. And that makes me really sad.

These parents have “normie” kids. They aren't dealing with SIBs, communication disorders, finding alternative methods of assistive technology, or cognitive impairment. They aren't struggling and fighting for their kids to attain the most basic of victories, like potty training at age 7. They go to school and volunteer for the PTO/A – and their children are feted. We have knock down, drag out fights during IEP meetings, and our kids are segregated from the rest of the school.

It has occurred to me that this is just a green-eyed jealousy thing. But I really don’t think so. When my kids aren't melting, struggling to communicate their basic needs, or slapping me, I really enjoy spending time with them. I enjoy listening to them. Talking to them and hearing their response. I love our home OT program – Tickle Time. I love it when they throw their spindly little arms around me and squeeze with all their might.

I think that the “Normie” moms and their over-scheduled, Ann Taylor wearing selves should be jealous of ME. For the victories that we have fought so hard for – those that have come so easy to their families. Victory over speech and gross motor delays, emotional disturbance and behavioral interventions.

It’s all a matter of perspective. And, most of the time, I like the view from my seat on the sidelines.