Today was a hard day. Despite very little, very interrupted sleep, I managed to load everyone into the car and get out to be sociable. I had called ahead the day before and bought dairy free alternatives for all the children. Both my toddlers had their special snacks and drinks packed to avert any “adult food grabbing crises”. I was feeling good- or as good as any person rocking out on 4.5 interrupted hours sleep could.
And what a giant, hopeless waste of time it was. The disappointment actually hurt, like a visceral pain. No consideration was paid to the need for things to be dairy free. No one cared for a moment that I couldn’t possibly keep their children’s food away from both my toddlers mouths at the same time. No one stopped their child leaving the table with the dairy covered food and spreading it around the furniture and toys.
At the beginning of this journey, I had hoped that my children would not have to miss out. I held tightly to the idea that they could have the same experiences as other children, if I tried hard enough to make it so. Hours of preparation had gone into to making myself understand that people are just ignorant (and not actually unkind) when they say things like:
“Oh well, yeh they had a bit but don’t worry, it’s not like it’s life threatening or anything. They’ll be ok.”
And I had worked hard to install a specific mute button in my brain. One that stopped me suggesting out loud that I feed their child a glass of antifreeze or a bleach sandwich and see how they feel? After all, my child’s insides bleeding every time someone thinks that a little bit won’t hurt, has started to look pretty life threatening to me. Especially when my eldest collapsed and had to have an unplanned holiday in costa del hospital!
The truth is, people are lazy and ignorant and, most important of all, just human. It doesn’t come down to intelligence! It comes down to experience, consideration and empathy. Traits that our society actively squashes and belittles in favour of competition and success.
I was fully prepared to turn the other cheek, maintain my compassion for their situation and just enjoy being out with my children.
But all those hours of rationalising and careful planning could literally have climbed up somebody’s butt and done one today!
I had no choice but to start to grieve for the life we knew. The life I thought we could return to once the little guts were healed. The faces, the activities, the familiarity. All gone in a poof of smoke as a room full of children ran around lording fists full of butter.
But it would be unfair to pretend that the grief was a bad thing. Yes, in the moment it felt wretched. In the moment, I felt so alone. In the moment of having to grab both children and run, I felt like the world was caving in and the rejection might crush me.
Less than one hour later though, life led me right into the company of people who did not need to be told. People who seemed to intuitively understand. They put their butter away and they invited us to join them for lunch without a second thought. The salt from the dried tears cracked on my cheeks as we laughed and the children played. And I realised that a different life, a different experience and a different perspective might be the very best thing for my children after all.