It has been my experience, in my almost nine years of especially needy child rearing, that in general, folks aren't going to ask about Owen.
Which is fine.
But. It has also been my experience, that if one is going to pepper me with questions, and do so without the pity, it is usually a man.
A few weeks ago we're at the indoor pool, waiting for Owen and Bea's lesson to start. I'm sitting in the row of chairs against the wall. Mommies and Mommies and Mommies. And the lone Daddy.
Owen is shirtless and not wearing his hearing aids. The scars alone would make a parent wonder. He doesn't have just one, or even a few. The kid looks like he's been through a war. 'Cause he totally has.
I don't expect the Daddy to say anything after I finish signing to Owen and send him on his way.
But he does. He wants to know if Owen had a heart defect; a fair question given the huge deep scar carved into his neck and down his sternum.
I simply tell him no, and that his medical history is complicated.
And he wants to know more. His eyes bright and smiling with curiosity, flicking from me as I dish the details, to Owen who is now flailing around in the water like a drunken seal.
He listens, not in the humoring a bragging special needs mom kind of way. But in a real understanding seeking kind of way. He asks the right questions in the right places. His face never gives up sympathy. Not even a little. He just doesn't stop smiling.
His son gets out of the pool and is bugging him to get going, though he clearly wants to hear more about Owen. He gives in to his son's pestering, and gets up to leave;
"I don't know if this is the right thing to say? But. Congratulations."
It is so the right thing to say. As if he'd known how far away I'd been feeling. Far away from being lucky and blessed and amazed that I get to be Owen's Mommy.
I wasn't feeling lucky or blessed this morning. Owen and Bea constantly at each others' throats, and way far up my ass.
Every step in our morning routine requires negotiation and argument. I wrangle the kids into their suits, Owen hands me his hearing aids, and they bolt out of the bathroom leaving me to schlep their clothes, jackets, towels, and shoes out to the pool.
A family of four is swimming around while the Grandpa sits on the side watching. I'm signing to Owen, interpreting Bea's words, and reminding him to pay attention to the teacher and not just take off into the deep end. I intervene a few times during their lesson to make sure he's on task. All the while, I feel Gramps' eyes on me.
Then he's shuffling over to me.
This old man, eightyish at least, was raised by Deaf parents. Signing parents even.
"They're vocal chords were fine, but a hundred years ago, there was nobody to teach them to talk."
A hundred years ago.
I reminded him of his Mother; a Mommy signing to her boy as his had signed to him.
Life was difficult for his parents, there was no community in which to belong. Communication based on lip reading was frustrating. Services were scarce. They depended on their children to help them navigate the Hearing world.
But a hundred years later?
He proceeds to gush about how happy it made him to see a young happy Deaf child, how he wished his parents could have known the life that Owen will have.
More congratulations as he's leaving, apparently I am a pleasure to talk to.
"I hope he knows how truly lucky he is. And you too."
He doesn't yet.
And I sure do appreciate the reminders.