What happens when you light a match and throw it on gasoline? Come with me for a moment and I will tell you all about it.
We decided to leave home early and stop at Party City before the girls had therapy at Easter Seals. The excitement of buying Olaf paraphernalia for their upcoming birthday party made the girls start talking at full volume. I always enjoy standing in a check out line while our girls talk loud enough to be heard in the next county. We survived Party City. So why not go to Toys R Us? We needed some ideas of what to get them for their birthday. The second our feet entered the door they started talking at full volume. They talked at full volume for 30 minutes. My ears hurt. My head was pounding. We left with one idea for a birthday present. It was time well spent.
As we drove to Easter Seals, I swallowed an aspirin while I rubbed my left temple. This is going to be a really long day. Brett dropped us off and I gave him instructions to return with chocolate. I watched as the girls walked down the hallway with their occupational therapists. Sweet freedom. 45 minutes to spend with my book. I might have enjoyed it if my head hadn’t been pounding. That 45 minutes passed much too quickly. I slowly walked up the hallway to gather my two firecrackers.
We had a 15 minute wait until speech therapy started. I took the girls to the bathroom. Turtle #1 started talking. Turtle #2 didn’t want Turtle #1 to talk. The match was lit. So what are you supposed to do when your sister starts talking and you’re not in the mood to listen to her? You kick her as hard as you possibly can. Yep. That’s what you should do. Throw the lit match on gasoline. BOOM! And there’s the explosion.
Turtle #1 got really mad and started yelling and hitting Turtle #2. And then Turtle #2 started yelling and hitting Turtle #1. Ok. What do I do now? I told them to stop it. That’s about as smart as telling a fire to quit burning. So I did what any sane mom would do in that exact moment. I decided that we were going to hide in the bathroom for the next 10 minutes. I was hoping that no one would witness our explosion.
And then the door started to open. Great. There’s nothing that I love better than a complete stranger getting to watch our girls in action. Oh joy.
She smiled as she came through the door. Wait. I know her. She’s the speech therapist who saw Hope a few months ago when Hope’s therapist was sick. I told her that the girls were having some behavioral issues and we would be hiding for the next 8 minutes until time to go to speech therapy. She laughed and said “I understand”.
I hear those two words often. A mom tells me “I understand” and it sends me over the edge. She doesn’t have a child with a disability. How can she understand? Her child doesn’t have meltdowns and behavioral challenges in public? She can’t really understand. She just says she understands because she doesn’t want me to feel so alone. But it doesn’t really help. It just makes me feel worse.
But this lady was different. When she said “I understand”, I knew that she understood. I saw it in her eyes. She began to share about her son and the behavioral challenges they had endured together. Then she said “I wouldn’t wish those kind of problems on anyone. But when I see other parents dealing with the same problems, I can’t help but smile. Because it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one.”
As we exited the bathroom, I told her about our sensory overload at Toys R Us. She understood every word that I said. She shared a few things she’s learned about taking her son into public places. I understood every word that she said. As we neared her therapy room, she smiled and said “We’ll talk again.” I told her I looked forward to it.
Little Miss Fire went to her therapy room and Little Miss Gasoline went to her therapy room. The explosion died for the next 30 minutes. I sat in the parent’s lounge and listened to my head pound Therapy ended and the fire and the gasoline had to meet once again. The hour and 15 minute ride home was filled with screaming and arguing. There were two reasons that I survived. Brett had returned with chocolate and a cup of caffeine. I sure love that man.
It was one of my worst days. We were hiding in the bathroom and I was hoping that no one would find us. It was one of my best days. We were hiding in the bathroom and someone found us. My mess made her smile. And her mess made me smile. Most of the time I just want my mess to go away. But today what I needed more than anything was to know that someone else has a mess that looks exactly like mine. I’m not alone.
The next time I’m hiding in the bathroom, I will remember this day. I will remember that I’m not the only mom sitting in the middle of a mess. Or perhaps I will be the lady on the other side of the door. As I push the door open, I will smile. I will say I understand and the other mom will see it in my eyes and she will know that it’s true. We’ll smile at each others messes. And we’ll find that our broken worlds don’t seem quite as broken when we realize that we are not alone.