One cold fall evening a few years ago, Bruno and I put the fireman to bed, popped open a bottle of wine and snuggled into the couch to watch a new show that we had really begun to enjoy: Parenthood. We were a few episodes in and looking forward to an enjoyable evening of television escape when, halfway into the episode, Max’s parents broke… and then I broke. And I broke BIG. I sobbed and sobbed and then told myself that there was nothing wrong with our child. I was just borrowing problems, looking for something to worry about. I was watching a TV SHOW and it had NOTHING to do with my life. The fireman was fine. He was FINE.
It would be another year before we began the process of gaining a diagnosis. A whole year of denial and secretly hoping that nothing was wrong with the fireman that he couldn’t just grow out of. When Max’s dad on Parenthood had such a hard time admitting that there was something wrong with his child, I thought he was a terrible person. Yet, I did the same thing for a whole year. I was in total denial.
I somehow blamed Parenthood for our problems, as if the show had caused the fireman to go from a totally normal, if not somewhat spirited, 3-year-old to a clinically diagnosed child with asperger’s. I refused to watch the show, worried that my worst fears would manifest themselves if I tuned in each week to follow the saga of this typically dysfunctional family. Seems fair, right?
Last night, I was lying in bed, looking for something to watch when I stumbled across the show and decided to finally give it another chance. I didn’t even make it to the end of the show before I was in the bathroom, once again sobbing those gut-wrenching sobs that smash your ribs and pour out of your throat sounding like a wounded animal. I was grieving the loss of a dream that I’ve held onto for so long. We do not have a white picket fence. We don’t have typical family experiences. We can’t leave the house without headphones. We can’t go to a restaurant without at least one melt down. We can’t go a day without struggle. We can’t go to places like Disneyland or Europe because the crowds and the need to adapt quickly to change are just too much. We can’t even send him to a “normal” school without lengthy discussions with a team of people and ongoing meetings to insure his success. As much as I try to make this life “normal”, it just isn’t.
You’re watching A Freak Out on ‘Parenthood’ 03/01/11 – TV Replay. See the Web’s top videos on AOL Video
Now I have to define a new normal, come up with new dreams. And let go of the old ones.