We travelled recently to a family wedding. Weddings or any occasion where there is a format, an etiquette, a plan always make me nervous. Parents of children with special needs have an irrational fear of things simply never going to plan. We dread the sideward glances, the smiles filled with pity, the stares, the underestimation of our children’s worth. We worry about how long the service will be, will we be seated somewhere with an accessible escape plan, what shoes are most suitable in case I have to spend half the day on the floor or running after kids, how many photos will we have to pose for, what will the main course be, how many extra supplies do I need to keep him quiet and most importantly, will there be a socket & wifi for iPad charging when all else fails.
These anxieties are inevitable but as the day progresses and any box (and I mean “ANY” box) is ticked, the sense of joy and jubilation is tremendous!
We get through the church ceremony with a top performance from Noah – celebrate! He poses for 2 of the 100 photos – celebrate! We make it to the restaurant and the kids menu is spaghetti bolognese – celebrate! We didn’t need the iPad because the cheesy tunes played by the DJ are winners – celebrate! Essentially, our glass is always filled with some kind of celebratory delicious beverage. Sure we have the down moments where he is making fart noises during the marriage ceremony, he pretends to be a dog to entertain the masses in the beer garden, he is running around with spaghetti sauce all over his white shirt and he point blank refuses to speak to, cuddle or embrace any relatives but we ignore any of these not so perfect moments (he is a 4 year old boy after all) and we celebrate anyway!
We didn’t get a single sideward glance; on the contrary everybody is amazed at our quirky happy little family (we do love to have a good time and bring a party element to any occasion!!)
I am so proud. I am proud that our family is interesting and not the same as everybody else. I am proud that the German/Irish mix between my husband and I makes us quirky and slightly bizarre, I am proud that we still know how to celebrate in our forties, I am proud that my beautiful, smart little girl sets up her own business stand at the wedding to sell ice to the overheated guests and makes €10 from her endeavours and I am very proud that my little boy tackles life with both hands, never ceases to amaze and inspire us and remains true to who he is at all times!
Of course I have discovered that my irrational parenting fears are not exclusive to parents of children with Down Syndrome or children with any special needs. I have discovered that all parents are filled with these irrational fears but I’m pretty sure they don’t drink as much champagne and eat as much celebratory cake as we do!! Lucky us : )