A couple of weeks ago, while at the checkout line, the friendly Ralphs cashier told me I needed to have at least one more child.
She said this in front of my son.
This time around, the cashier is someone we chat with each time we see her.She is warm and friendly with my son.She comments on how tall he’s gotten and asks how he’s doing in school.
But this was crossing the line.
While she scanned my groceries and I bagged them, I tried my usual answer.“We’re blessed with Ryan.”
But she didn’t let it go.“You need to give him a brother or a sister.You never know what could happen to you or your husband.You don’t want to leave him alone.”
I felt a physical reaction, as if I had been punched in the stomach.I know this.It is one of my great fears.
As we loaded our groceries into the car, I spoke to my son about this conversation.“I really like it when we see Dora, but I really didn’t like what she said to us today,” I told Ryan.
I continued.“You know each family makes their own decisions about children.How many to have, or if they’ll have any at all.And each family’s decision is right for them.Our decision is right for us.Daddy and I feel so lucky that our family is the way it is.”
“I know,” Ryan said.
But like I began this post, this isn’t the first time a supermarket cashier has commented on our one-child family status.And even though I’ve dealt with this before, it doesn’t get any easier.
Click here to be re-directed to RoleReboot.orgto read my personal essay, “When A Stranger Told Me I Needed To Have a Second Child.”
“What does the doctor do with all the blood after they check it?”
My son once asked me that question.It took me by surprise and caught me off guard, because it was something I had never considered.
It’s not the only good question Ryan has asked me over the years.There have been so many I wrote a personal essay about them.And I’m proud to say that “Mommy Has a ‘Boo-Boo Leg’: Talking to My Son About My Autoimmune Disease” is now a non-fiction finalist in the Pen 2 Paper Disability-Focused Creative Writing Contest.
Click here to read my essay, and this year, readers may vote for their “audience favorite.” (You must have a free Submittable account to vote).
Thank you in advance for reading and spreading the word!
The other afternoon, my son and I played hopscotch.
That was after we had played handball.
There are a few details that make those statements more meaningful than they may initially appear.
First off, in our neighborhood, we don’t see many parents outside playing with their kids.Where we live, kids are left to wander on their own.Most of the families near us are not only-child families like ours so often times siblings play together, or neighboring kids play together.But the other day, we were the only ones outside enjoying the sunshine so I was my son’s playmate.
Secondly, neither hopscotch or handball are easy sports for me to play.Me, the woman with an autoimmune disease, the woman who qualifies for a disabled placard, the woman who experiences pain in her legs (primarily the left leg).
But my son wanted to play.And I wanted to play with him.So I did, until I just couldn’t.Until I was balancing on one foot, bending down to pick up the rock from the hopscotch square, and pain began to shoot up and down my leg a bit.Then I had to sit the rest of the game out, and cheer on my son while he played alone.
That part hasn’t gotten any easier for me — knowing when to stop and knowing when to say “I can’t do this any more.”Because I do want to play with my son, and because I realize how special it is that my ten-year-old still wants to play with me.
Our afternoon playtime session got me thinking about a personal essay I wrote a few years back that was published at muthamagazine.com.Click here to read, “The ‘A’ Word: Parenting with an Invisible Disability.”
When you first look at the picture above, all you see is a lush, green hanging plant.But if you looked inside, if you looked down at the soil that is hidden by the leaves, you’d find more than a plant.You’d find a bird sitting on her nest.And in that nest, if the bird flew away, you might get lucky to spot the baby birds in there.
A week or so ago, we discovered the nest when I was watering our plants.I accidentally startled the mama bird, and after she flew away, I saw four small eggs tucked into the nest.
Those eggs have hatched, and now this plant on our back patio is home to a bird family.
Yet when you first walk by, all you see is this plant.“Our” bird family is hidden.Just like my autoimmune disease.
It’s funny how the mind works, but discovering this nest, listening to “Tweet Tweet” (my son’s name for the mama bird), has got me thinking about a piece I wrote for MUTHA Magazine. Click here to read my personal essay, “Can Acknowledging My Weakness Actually Be a Sign of Strength?”
My ten-year-old son enjoys reading the “Who? What? Where?” Series.If you’re not familiar with these non-fiction books, they are biographies of famous people (both historical and contemporary figures) as well as books about well-known places and significant events.
On the back cover of each book, is a series of questions related to the book’s subject.This week, I thought I’d borrow that format to share a few things about me:
Who Is Wendy Kennar?
— A little girl who always liked to wear plastic jewelry around the house and pretend she was a movie star.
— A college student who didn’t have a car for half her college years and relied on six buses a day to commute to and from California State University Northridge.
— A mother with an invisible disability.
** All of the above
It’s all true.And you can click here to read my personal essay “Parenting With an Invisible Disability” at MomsLA.com.