"Look, Olivia!" she said and fixed her gaze in our direction, "another little girl to play with." Little Olivia looked over and just stared in bewilderment at my Little Bird whose nose was scrunched up and fingers were in pushed so far into her ears that she likely didn't hear me ushering her along. The little girl just stared. Oh, the stares. After all these years, the stares are as sharp in my gut as ever.
It was a pool party. Mostly babies and very young kids. My bird was the oldest. We didn't know anyone but the hosts. The pool was a little too cold for my baby, so I just held him and nursed him and rocked him. Eventually he slept in my arms. It must have been too much of a sensory experience for my girl as she dropped to the ground, silent, fingers in ears, head down and body curled up. Ben and I continued to exchange glances, the kind that contained entire conversations and debates about whether or not to cut and run. We tried to distract her, redirect her. It was a fruitless effort. I looked around at the other families. They were enjoying their afternoon. And from the outside, it did look like fun. And the sounds! Little ones giggling and the echoes of the pool. Yes, it looked like a good time. It's just not mine. My mission is to find peace with what's mine.
We spent more time in the car traveling to the party than we did there. Sometimes I'm not sure why I bother trying. But of course we will try again. We always try again.