I wish the stories I am about to share were fictional.
A woman I had known for two hours felt that it was appropriate to say in front of my son, “so because of his birth defect his birth parents didn’t want him, right?”
Not twenty minutes later, Little Man and I were walking across a parking lot. We were taking our time enjoying the warm afternoon. He was wearing shorts making his brace and prosthetic visible. A truck slowed down next to us and the driver rolled down his window. (I am not kidding!) “Lady, what is wrong with your son?”
We get into McDonalds to enjoy a mommy and son date. While waiting in line, the woman next to me says, “He has one blue leg and one…..well he is cute anyway.”
Three in a row – in less than an hour.
Many times we are seen as a curiosity, entertainment, weird, or the drastic opposite – super heroes. None are accurate and they make me sad. Yes, our family looks different and our children were born with things that make them unique – but that is the beauty of God’s creativity. I wish that people could see that rather than a limb difference or skin tone.
As mom to this crew, I am learning that I need to educate and advocate for the sake of my family. Some days are harder than others. Sometimes it feels lonely and I just get tired. I don’t want to explain myself or defend my family. I would just like people to “get” us – treat us like any other family.
Thankfully, this is a true story.
I was waiting in line in our small town’s post office. A woman, who knew my husband as a child, introduced herself. I enjoyed the small talk (ahhhh, adult conversation) including fun stories of her life as a swimming instructor. “I would be excited to teach Little Man to swim this summer.” she offered without missing a beat.
Just when you feel exhausted.
I thought I would cry right there in the post-office. She was God’s gift to me. She saw the empty pant-leg and my son’s potential to be just like other kids. Even more she was excited to be a part of his journey and to get to know our family.
What a different afternoon encounter. I am sure she had no idea why tears sprang to my eyes and she wouldn’t be able to understand the value of the gift she had just offered me. It was so much more than swimming lessons. God whispered into my heart and I didn’t feel alone.
Making my own true story.
The deep blessing of being offered swimming lessons shocked me into remembering that simple gestures can make significant impact. So just thinking…how can I be like the swimming instructor and not like the curious truck driver?
Lord, help me today to use my talents, time and money to encourage those around me.