It occurred to me that I could write up a decent list of things I have learned about raising a chronically ill child. On the list would be this, “Don’t feel guilty that you don’t have a social life. Don’t feel guilty that you don’t want one.”
When your sick child is home, missing out on fun and not being a part of typical rights of passage, the thought of leaving him so you can hang out with other adults for the purpose of having a good time is appalling. Over the years I may have dabbled in some guilt over not having an impressive social life. Like when I go outside at night and realize I have forgotten what stars look like; I’m rarely out past dark. I don’t feel guilty for long. When I break it down in my head, I realize 100 times out of 100, most moms and dads will choose their suffering child over fun.
Let’s examine the silver lining here. If my life had taken a different path, it’s likely I would have put my husband through all sorts of social anxiety inducing parties and get togethers he would not have chosen on his own. We both like people a lot. I just happen to enjoy them in much larger doses. Instead, we live pretty quietly. Turns out I like this too.
Just a few times a year though I get a little antsy for something fun. Coincidentally, that urge usually hits me around my birthday. Two years ago, when I turned 40, I emailed Scott an invitation to send to some of our friends. It was an invitation to my Birthday Party. I thought it may be more socially acceptable to make it look like the invite came from him. You know, so maybe someone would think he planned the party.
It didn’t work. Our friends know Scott a little too well. I did have fun dramatizing my surprised and bewildered response to all the fuss everyone put in to the party I planned for myself. I still can’t believe they went to all that trouble. I just don’t know what got into them.
I got another goofy idea in my head this year for my 42nd Birthday. When I first conceived the idea to have fun, I knew I just wanted to laugh and be silly. The most fun thing I could think of was having a big dance party. Dancing to “Can’t Touch This” with my husband and friends sounds SO AWESOME!!!! I don’t want to brag, but I have mastered some pretty classic 80’s dance moves. It’s a shame I don’t have more opportunities to bust these out. And frankly, a real loss for those who don’t get to see them.
Can you believe that not very many people in their 40’s think that a dance party sounds fun? What’s wrong with them? I Googled, “40 something-year-old dance clubs”. I got nothing. I know. It’s crazy. That’s a million dollar idea right there. If you run with it, I expect to get a cut.
So, scratch the dance party. What else is fun? Scott and I have never claimed to be very sophisticated. I remember going on a trip with Scott to the Caribbean. It was a trip I earned. We were with hundreds of other couples who were with the same company. That’s the week that something became clear to me. After a week of hanging out with sophisticated couples who were sipping fancy umbrella drinks, lounging for hours by the pool and attending black tie only cocktail hours, I told Scott, “Can we just be honest about something? I think we both know that we’re just pretending to be adults.”
We spent our week in the Caribbean figuring out how to make the best use of the free continental breakfast (you can actually get two meals out of that deal), playing ping pong, tennis and racing each other in the pool. It was a slice of heaven.
I knew for my party, sitting around drinking cocktails could not be the main event. So I picked something almost as glamorous, mini golf. It was a competition. Because if it wasn’t, can you tell me what would be the point? We split up into teams. We played mini golf, shot hoops and played trivia at dinner for the final round. Scott and I were a team. We didn’t win, and that still hurts. I can’t talk about it right now. Just give me some time.
Here’s what a group of good sports looks like. I really need a new camera:
These guys were too good at this game. I’m not inviting them next time:
We ended the evening at a restaurant. I was excited to eat out, because it happens infrequently. The waiter was a super nice young man. He was also funny, but maybe he didn’t mean to be? He spilled water all over our table, but didn’t come back to clean it up. Scott and two other people in our group ordered hamburgers. They looked so delicious on the menu. When they were delivered they resembled ashes on a bun. I noticed the woman in our group who ordered the burger immediately and nicely asked to have it returned and replaced with something that was edible. Scott and the other guy who ordered the burger must have silently decided to celebrate guy code. They didn’t return their burgers. They toughed it out. I think they thought it would be okay if they just drowned it in enough ketchup. That might have worked, except for some reason the ketchup tasted exactly like a strong glass of Merlot.
I really can’t recall a time that Scott has ever complained about his food in a restaurant. That’s usually my deal. But, that Merlot flavored ketchup really threw him. He hasn’t had a sip of alcohol in 20 years, that’s not the way he wanted to break his streak.
When we were leaving, the waiter handed Scott the black leather thing they give you with your receipt and change. He looked Scott in the eye and said, “Here you go. Here’s your change. It’s 26 dollars.” He said it slowly and clearly. It seemed unusual that he was making such a point of it, especially since there was only 21 dollars inside.
The waiter bid us good bye. He said, “Be careful folks. It’s really getting shi**y out there.” I was surprised. I like to keep my eye on the forecast. I thought the weather was supposed to be fine. When we went outside the weather was calm; just the way we left it. It made me wonder if we weren’t on a hidden camera show while we were eating.
That waiter was a nice kid. I’m not complaining. I actually should thank him, because sometimes I run out of things to blog about.
The night was a success. My fun cup is full now. I’m probably good for another 10 – 12 months. I did think about something when we were playing mini golf. I wondered if Scott and I will ever officially grow up. It feels like I’m always going to like playing more than doing grown up things like going to cocktail parties and talking about property taxes and riding lawn mowers. I didn’t see any elderly couples at the mini golf course though, so I’m not sure if this is done. Maybe I just have to get to a certain age before the “likes boring stuff” gene activates. I’ll let you know.