“So, how many kids do you have?”
I knew I would get asked that at some point. It’s a front line, nice-to-meet-you kind of a question. It’s a chit chat question, innocuous.
It isn’t a probing, tell-me-the-worst-of-your-life question.
Except that now, it is.
“I have one.” I said. I tried to leave it at that. This person is just a passing stranger, not someone whose entering my life for the long haul. In my heart, I still have two. In my heart, I am still a warrior mom, and infinitely proud of both my girls. But this person isn’t looking for my life story, he’s just looking for chit chat.
I have never been good at chit chat.
“Oh. With the minivan, I would have expected more.”
Did I mention I have never been good at chit chat?
To be fair, this was the car sales guy. I’m starting to think about trading out of my w/c accessible van, so it isn’t like I wasn’t expecting to explain why I don’t need it any more. It’s just that – this is mine. This is my heart, right out there for the whole world to see and judge. I was proud to be one of the mighty (there’s actually a website for special parents by that name, it’s very good), and now I feel like one of the fallen. I feel weak, and broken, and displaced.
And, dammit, I don’t want to share that like first name information. I don’t want shallow sympathy followed by awkward, where-the-hell-can-I-take-this-conversation-now? silence. She’s mine. She’s my heart. She isn’t for this person who means nothing to me.
But here I am in this world, where I will be asked this question. And I’ll deal with this – maybe I’ll get better at this over time. I guess we’ll see. I’m not good at chit chat.
“Funny thing about that.” I say. “You may have noticed my van is a little different.”
“Yeah, it’s handicap accessible.” He says. I let the inappropriate verbage slide. “You aren’t using it?”
“No.” I breathe out, and I move forward on this inevitable path. “I have one. I used to have two.”
I used to have two. In my heart, I still have two. I always will. But for this world, most people will only see the one.