Right now my house is full of pre-teen girls playing "mafia"(?), giggling, making cake balls and watching movies. Allie is having a sleepover for her birthday. Shelby is at a high school Best Buddies dance. It is not lost on me how common this kind of thing is for one child and how rare for the other.
When I dropped Shelby at the dance, she was so excited by the lights and music and friends. It struck me how "normal" this seemed and reminded me that most of Shelby's life is not "normal". Because we are so accustomed to Shelby and our routine with her, I tend to forget (or not think about) how different she is. And only when she is presented with this type of unusual opportunity do I have to face the fact that it is, indeed, an unusual opportunity.
Allie, it seems, has a sleepover every other weekend. She is often invited to birthday parties, play dates and school functions. And we host more than our fair share to keep her happy and entertained. It's been years since Shelby has been invited to a classmate's birthday party. She didn't really have the option of cotillion. There are no sleepovers, and she will never experience a college formal. She doesn't date and will never drive off in a car with a best friend.
It is a huge blessing that Shelby doesn't know or understand what she is missing. If someone makes fun of her, she doesn't get it. She will never come home in tears because her crush asked out someone else. She'll never grieve the betrayal of a friend or feel left out. Mind you, it's not because she ISN'T left out. It's only that she doesn't KNOW she is. I must confess, though, that it breaks this mama's heart. Many of my friends are struggling with their kiddos through middle and high school dramas right now. And I know how painful those years can be. I remember the agony of living through it. But I would gladly invite some of that drama into our lives if it came with a side of "normalcy" for my girl.
I am so very thankful for organizations like Best Buddies and the exceptional students who volunteer so that Shelby can go to a party. I can't say enough about Special Olympics and Spirit Xtreme who have programs that allow her to participate in sport. Even if each event is a tearful reminder (for me) of what she is missing.
Dear mamas of typicals, please cherish the "normal". You have no idea how special it is.