Today BubTar's school room mother asked how old KayTar was while helping BubTar from his booster seat.
She said, "Oooh, baby girl is getting big! How old is she now?"
"She is two." I replied, while smiling.
"It's time to get rid of that bottle, Mama." She stated, as she closed the car door.
And I pulled away from the curb feeling very much like I had been slapped across the face. Hot, wet tears poured down my cheeks and I didn't know why. I was angry and shaking, and the tears kept coming.
I haven't cried about KayTar in many, many months. Things are good, wonderful even. There is no cause for tears. So why now?
Perhaps it was because a stranger felt I needed a lesson in how to care for my child. Maybe because her words insinuated I do not know what is best for my child when I bust my ass on a daily basis to insure I do everything I can for her. That somehow she could tell from the two minutes our car door was open what was best for my child, a child she knows nothing about. Perhaps it is because I know that we have many more of these moments ahead of us, and that one day judgments like this will no longer be directed at me, but at KayTar. I don't know why I cried.
I know this mother does not know what we are going through; her words were not meant to be hurtful...slightly judgmental, perhaps, but not hurtful. As I pulled away from the curb, I thought, "Explain! You should have explained." but I couldn't have, not in the 10 seconds it took for that door to close. That is all people will see at times, a snapshot of us in time unaware of our past or future, only that moment.
People will see sweet KayTar wearing her harness and think I am awful or lazy and treat my daughter like an animal. They won't realize that she is deaf in one ear and delayed, and that she doesn't feel secure walking in public without it. They won't realize that she can't hear me call her name in a noisy place, or understand when I tell her to stop so she doesn't get hurt. They won't realize that it is the only way I can safely give her freedom to explore on her own. They will just see me in all my awful, lazy parenting glory mistreating my child with a leash.
They will see her with her bottle, like today, and wonder why the hell I haven't weaned my poor child already. Don't I know that it is bad for her teeth and gums? That I am holding her back by letting her continue to use it? They won't know that we are so very thankful for the bottle, and without it KayTar would likely have a feeding tube, because the majority of her nutrition comes through that bottle. They won't know she physically cannot suck from a straw or figure out how to use a sippy cup. They will see me spoiling my child and ruining her teeth.
Children one day will not want to play with her because she has a hearing aid and it makes her different, the way BubTar told me he didn't like a classmate because he wore glasses. I cried when BubTar told me that, because my heart broke for that sweet little guy and for his mother. BubTar was told in no uncertain terms that it was not okay to exclude people for being a little different than he is. But it happens. It shouldn't happen, but it does, every day.
I don't think about KayTar's future often, because so much is unknown...we don't know what to expect because life with KayTar is a mixed bag. She is extrememly bright, but also very challenged. She is an amazing study in contrasts. So I don't worry about the future, we will deal with it when we get there...but when a tiny piece of the future meets us here in the present, I can't help but notice it.
And maybe it cracks my heart just a little.