The Montana Fair has an annual disability day where they open the park for 2 hours exclusively for the families of those with disability.
The spectrum of disability is represented, old, young, physical, mental, sensory, emotional it's ALL there and VERY evident... But the thing is it's not! It's like this momentary bubble of not worrying about disability and staring or looks of pity or people trying to be overly cheerful to hide their own discomfort. No one gives 'knowing looks' or disapproving grunts or glares at behavior. No one notices! Not even the kids.
My children didn't blink any eye at any of it. It's all so normal to us - the families who live this reality. We all get it and we don't have to discuss it or pat each other on the back or worry about that 'poor kid', and sigh and cluck and moan about the injustice of it all - it's not even a thing! Been there, done that. We all have the T shirt!
It's WONDERFUL! It's the most fabulous day and I look forward to it every year because it's one of the days I feel most 'normal'. It's nice not to have to explain yourself, not to have filter the folks who think they know but really have no freaking clue. It's nice to know that you're understood so well that you literally blend into the crowd.
Yes it's hard to live this life, yes there's a lot of extra but one of the hardest parts is not being understood, standing out in the crowd being noticed but never truly being seen. Before this life, these children, I would have felt totally uncomfortable in a crowd of disability. I would have noticed all of the disability, it would have stood out and drawn my attention. I would have struggled with guilt and embarrassment regarding my discomfort and I would have felt a lot of pity for those 'poor families'. Even though I worked with children who had disability I didn't live it, I wasn't surrounded by it and I truly didn't get it until I was so immersed in it that it became a part of me.
So that's where we are! Our new normal, the normal that can't be understood by casual relationships, the normal that can make friends and family feel like strangers, the normal that makes normal seem odd to us, the normal that loves days like today where everyone is so different that it feels like we are, for a short moment, normal. For days like today I'm truly grateful!
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