When Sam was in the NICU, they used to "throw us out" from 5-7pm for shift change (and conveniently also, dinner). We ate a lot of restaurant food in those 19 days. Restaurant food and trail mix.
One particular Friday evening not long after Sam's diagnosis, I remember sitting with Sam's dad at Wok Hay, a local Asian restaurant. We were there together, but I was checked out. It was like I was there alone, observing from inside myself everything going on around me. A family came in and were seated at the table next to us: a mom, a dad, a little girl, a little boy. They were beautiful and blonde and thin and perfect. PERFECT. All four of them. Two well-behaved children and their beautiful parents, eating Chinese food on a Friday night.
I managed to hold it together through dinner, in spite of my silent envy, my contempt for the beautiful family next to us. But by the time I got into the car, I was in tears again. "We'll NEVER be that family. We'll never be a normal family out to eat on a Friday night.We love to go out to dinner after work on Fridays, and we will never get to be that family!! At best, we'll be the family who is the object of everyone's rude stares, the questions about the poorly behaved child while TRYING to enjoy a dinner out." My dreams of being that family were dashed. (It doesn't matter that I'm brunette and tubby. Our baby in the NICU was definitely what was keeping us from being the tall, thin, beautiful blondes at the next table.)
Fast forward to last night. A beautiful early autumn evening, 21 months later. The three of us had a nice walk on the greenway, and decided to get dinner after. Chinese sounded good to Sam's dad. I couldn't agree more. The three of us happily ate our dinner. No staring, one very small outburst when we took away the fried noodles (which then spilled tea and water on me), and an almost 2 year old who ate his weight in moo shu vegetables. A perfect family outing.