Thursday, February 23, 2017

I didn't spray paint the pizza.

I woke up yesterday with a pressing need to spray paint some bottles gold in order to use them as red carpet and gold decor for a pseudo-Oscar Viewing Party.

Don't worry. You haven't missed the Oscars. We just partnered with ABC and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to host a little get-together for pizza and Speechless -- to watch and discuss an episode about an Oscar-viewing party. We quickly agreed when they asked. But our "little" get-together grew rapidly as everyone had more than a handful of people they wanted to invite. But still -- pizza and TV. No worries.

ABC sent the poster -- my movie-loving crew were excited!

And I was still feeling fairly laid back about the event when I went to bed Tuesday night. But Wednesday morning I woke with my usual "We're having a party and it must be splendid" fervor.

Wade calls it a manic mode.

The welcoming crew -- they helped our guests to the ramp and welcomed them to the party!

I want to argue that. I wanted to dispute it even as I was baking brownies between the coats drying on the gold-painted bottles on the porch. But when I grabbed the black napkin holder and added it to my gold-spray-painted madness, I had to concur that perhaps, just maybe, quite possibly, he has a point.

Some of my people.

Here's the thing and it frankly just is what it is: I love people. I love the fellowship of being where my people are. I love to sit around a table and break bread -- or pass our favorite dips -- and just be with friends and family. I love to watch my kids with their friends and to hear their laughter echo around the room. I really love a party.

Claire and some of her people.

But as far back as an early early play date -- before the trio even turned three, when I showed up and couldn't get my crew into the home -- I realized that all homes can't open their doors to welcome us. I know that all the parties my friends throw can't include us. I know I have family and dear friends whose tables aren't accessible for my family to pull up a chair and break bread.

Making new friends!

And so somewhere along the way I realized that hosting the parties would have to be the way my people gathered. And without even meaning to....I began to assume that the parties had to be good, I mean really good, so that my people would want to gather here where my family could be included.
And this pizza party, well most of our guests were in the same boat as us and so this invitation might be a less-than-common-occurrence for them like such things are for us. So I needed to elevate this from JUST a pizza party to a PARTY.

Cue the gold spray paint and mania.

THOSE SMILES!! Benjamin, Mason, and Jordan.

The pizza was yummy and the episode pretty much resonated in every detail. In case you missed it, last night's episode of Speechless involved parallel stories between the Moms, the Dads, JJ (with CP) and his friends, as well as a storyline about JJ's brother Ray.

They just got so much exactly right. But of course, it was the moms that were screaming at my heart: When a new mom joins Maya's Special Moms Support Group and shows up dressed pristinely, with her hair perfectly coiffed, they all stare at her stunned. One of the moms mumbles, "Where are her stains?"

Oh yea. 

I spent the first eight years of the triplets' life walking around with holes in the knees of my jeans (and not in the cool way) and something somewhere on my clothing that you can bet didn't belong to (or even come from) me.

My trio with friends -- they might be to old to call it a play date but I am celebrating
their laughter and fun with friends all the same!

The other moms -- led by Minnie Driver's character, Maya -- initially want to be like and hate this new mom all at the same time. They show up for the Oscar party with beautiful hair and ironed clothing. And after some wipe-your-eyes-from-laughing moments (you really need to watch), they end up at new mom's clean, organized and lovely home. Oh y'all there are heated words, food fights and hurt feelings. Before Maya's daughter intervenes and forces them to talk. And that's when things get real:

"We want to believe we are the best mums for our kids. It is terrifying to believe someone might be better." -- Maya

Oh that. Sigh. I can honestly say I struggle sometimes with other special needs moms. It can be so hard to hear about the hours this mom spends on therapy every single day while I am sitting here thinking ouch, I can't imagine forcing Benjamin to do that. Or a mom who shows up with every medical record laminated in a color-coded binder. And I'm like, "Oh yes, color coding! I did that once. When the triplets still napped twice a day. I haven't had time to match colors since then." Or the myriad of amazing moms who work out, cook organically, start their own name it and believe me if we play the comparison game it can get ugly quickly.

We compare ourselves. And because this road is ours alone -- rarely have we seen or known someone to walk it ahead of us -- we can be filled with self-doubt. What if the way I am doing it is the wrong way. What if there is in fact a better way? What if my child could have accomplished x, y, and z if ONLY I had been like that mom.

It is enough to make you want to pull a "Minnie Driver" as we refer to it in our house....and mess up New Mom's uber-organized pantry!

And then the writers of Speechless nailed it again:

New Mom: "I think we need to give each other and ourselves a break. It's like we have the same problems, right? We just come at them from different angles. We're sisters, not enemies."

Oh do y'all remember how desperately I want sisters?? And to have them gather around my table???

We talked for a while after the show -- we spoke of a need to be organized, the impossibility of staying organized, and the beauty of finding the balance. The moms were sharing and getting to know each other -- all new friends, all at different places in our journey, all sisters.

The kids were also making new friends and finding their own way. College kids with CP and without showing love and friendship to those younger and some older on this journey. Elementary kids with CP and without, finding a bond in laughter and pizza -- is there anything better?

And for our group of 30-something that ranged in age from 8 to well, much older than 8, we spent an evening doing what family does, breaking bread (and more than a few chips) and gathering around the TV to laugh and cry and enjoy a favorite TV show.

And as my husband led one of our new friends to the ramp, Jordan looked at Wade and asked, "Dr. Shrader, can we do this every month?"

To which my soul cried, "Yes Jordan, yes we can!! I happen to have spray paint in a myriad of colors!"

Carol - The Blessings Counter