Over Christmas Break, Mark and I took Gwen to lunch at a popular burger place. We walk in (Mark holding Gwen) and tell the hostess “we need a table for 2.” She gives us a confused look and then says “oh I guess she is still little and needs a high chair.” We politely decline and tell her we will just hold her. She then says, “ok so two regular menus and one child’s menu.” We also politely decline and tell her we won’t be needing a child’s menu. We are then taken to a booth (our request) and are seated. Mark is holding Gwen on his lap. The waitress comes over to greet us. She first looks at Gwen and says, “Hi sweetie, what would you like to drink?” We politely decline and say she won’t need a drink today. You can imagine the sideways look we received. Mark and I place our drink orders. Later the waitress returns and Mark and I place our food orders. Again the waitress states, “would she (Gwen) like anything for lunch?” We again politely decline. We receive our food and Mark and I take turns holding Gwen while the other one eats their food.

Sometimes, we offer information about Gwen.  Sometimes we don’t.  It’s not that we are ashamed of her story.  Rather, it’s a coping mechanism to control our own emotions and attempt to have a semi-normal outing.

This interaction made me emotional and caused me to have streaming tears at a public restaurant.  (And in no way do I fault the restaurant staff for that.) The combination of the restaurant being filled with families with children and our recent interactions, I was emotional.

I was envious of the other families with healthy children.

I was envious that their children had the strength to sit in a booth.

I was envious that their children had a voice and were able to order their desired food.

I was envious that their children could eat and drink.

I was envious that these parents knew their child’s favorite foods and preferred drink.

I was envious that their children were squealing with delight of the upcoming holiday.

I was envious that their children were so excited to receive a balloon after the meal.

I was envious of their normalcy.

I sat in the booth and had a mini pity party for Gwen as she will never have these experiences. It broke my heart to think all the unfairness, pain, and struggle that she deals with. I was angry for her.

I then had a mini pity party for Mark and I on how simple tasks (such as grabbing lunch) can be hard and require so much planning.

Should we bring her wheelchair?

Do you want to eat first or hold Gwen first?

Do we have her rescue medications packed in case she has a big seizure?

Do we have her feeding supplies packed to provide her lunch via a feeding tube?

And so much more.  Again, I was angry.

I know Mark feels these same emotions but thankfully he always seems to know what to say at the right time. “Erin, we obviously pray that someday we will get to experience the joys of a healthy child…and when that day comes, we will be able to appreciate all the small things that most parents never think about. We will be so excited for all the small moments and never take those for granted.”

Gwen continues to be an amazing teacher and continues to show us the true meaning of life. She has taught us that life is truly about appreciating the small things because someday those will be the big things that really matter! So for 2017, I challenge myself to appreciate all the small things in life. And Gwen challenges all of you to do the same!

Published On: December 1, 2016Categories: News