No, You Don’t Know Me.

I guess I have one of those familiar faces, because I seem to get it a lot. The head cocked to one side, the awkward pause, then “Do I know you?”

do-i-know-you

Normally that comes after I get that strange feeling like someone is staring at the back of my head.

“Um, no….I don’t think so….” But I’m just being nice. No, you don’t know me.

I’m kind of used to it. My husband played in the NFL for 13 years, we did a lot of charity work, and made a lot of appearances. During our time with the Tennessee Titans, I ran a charity called Nurses for Newborns of Tennessee, and did quite a few TV interviews as well. It’s not like I was a quarterback’s wife or anything, but we were out there in the public eye. People recognized me. That was at the height of the “do-I-know-you” period.

Fred&Kim

Here I am at a Nurses for Newborns event

(oh, and in case you are wondering, I’m really not short. He’s just that tall.)

When we moved to Chicago, and started up with the Bears, I got less of that.  It was a BIG city, and I also wasn’t “out there” as much.  My boys were in Kindergarten and second grade, and had requested that I be the stay-at -home mom that bakes cookies for class parties and runs the cub scout troop. So I did.

People still thought they knew me, but in a different way. I didn’t get as many people recognizing me, but the people I had frequent contact with (other parents at school, neighbors etc) thought they knew me because they knew I was an NFL wife.

They assumed I had Nannies. (I didn’t)

or a cook (yeah, right)

or that I took private planes to all my exotic vacation and sat in a suite at the games every week. Um, no- NOT BY A LONG SHOT.

We enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle, but we also were living pretty much like everyone else in our neighborhood. I drove my kids to school (no chauffeur) packed lunches, wiped snotty noses, did laundry for myself (didn’t hire someone in or send it out) and all the other stuff that “normal” people do. Don’t get me wrong, we did get to go on some great trips and acquire some cool stuff, but people didn’t really know us, or understand our life, even though they thought they did.

It was good training for what came next.

When my older son, Grant got so ill, friends and family thought they knew. They had NO idea. Many times he didn’t look sick, but just getting out of bed was a challenge. We were inundated with well meaning advice, sprinkled with snide remarks, and lots of comments that may not have been meant with any ill-will, but were hurtful nonetheless. I wasn’t getting asked the question, but people assumed they knew. They thought they knew me, my life, and what my family was going through. We tended to be more private back then, and I wasn’t given to drama. Even when things were bad, I put on my happy face, for all but just a few people. No, you really don’t know me.

No amount of money will fix the feeling of not knowing whether your child will live or die. Nothing you can buy will make you feel better when your child is suffering, in pain, every single day, and you are helpless to fix it. So what that my husband played in the NFL. It helped us pay our medical bills (BIG help) but it didn’t give me the power to fix things.

 

In the hospital in 2010. Painful rash all over and with serious liver issues. Money could buy him care, but not a cure.

In the hospital in 2010. Painful rash all over and with serious liver issues. Money could buy him care, but not a cure.

I eventually shut myself off from people, especially the ones who didn’t get it. Then, I found support from other moms and dads going through the same things in my online communities and Facebook groups. I started to come back out of my shell again, better prepared to deal with what all the people who thought they knew me (us) could dish out.

I’ve been doing pretty well with it, but every once in a while, I get thrown for a loop, caught off guard, and taken back to the old days.

I had another “No, you DON”T know me” incident this past Monday, and it was a big one. Tune in tomorrow, and I’ll tell you all about it.

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Comments:

  1. Unless people walk in your shoes, they do not know. You or your situation. Over the years of raising my daughter with special needs, people with typical kids would say, “yeah, my kids does that too.” No they don’t. Not in the same way. And even though we find support in this blogging world, we still don’t totally understand what it is like to live with something if we don’t personally experience it. Good for you on this.

    The part where you say that there were times your son didn’t look sick, there were times when my daughter didn’t look “special.” People expected more of her. We were often given tons of unsolicited advice–like the doctors were clueless. And sometimes, because I wanted hope, I’d believe some of these suggestions–although non came to fruition.

    I’d rather have a healthy, happy daughter than all the things we’ve accumulated over the years. I’d trade it all. Just like you. Glad I found your blog.
    Out One Ear – Linda Atwell recently posted…Ten Things Of Thankful – November 17, 2013My Profile

    • Linda, Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments!It nice to know that someone “hears” you and understands. While I would never claim to “know you” and know exactly what you are going through, I think there is a common thread that joins us- parents of chronically ill children, critically ill children, and special needs children all have experiences similar to the ones I described. While our challenges may be different, the fact that we have them, EVERY SINGLE DAY, is not- and neither is the fact that few who are looking at us from the outside really understand what it is like.

      Hopefully posting like this will help others look through a window to our world.

      I’m glad we found each other!

  2. I don’t know what being an NFL wife is like. 😉 but I do know how it feels to have people make snide comments because my child doesn’t look sick. I even get asked why I let her jump in a bounce house. People don’t realize that when she is really bad I taking care of her not snapping photos.
    Herchel S recently posted…Busting Boredom and Saving Christmas!My Profile

    • I know exactly what you mean Herchel. We let them bounce in the bounce house (even though we know they may pay for it tomorrow, and NOT be the same kid) because we need to preserve every little sliver of their childhood we can. I was called out for letting Grant attend a birthday party (all he could handle was an hour) after he missed 3 days of school for hospital clinics. If he was too sick for school, he was supposed to be too sick for the party. If I waited for him to be “well” he wouldn’t have made a single one all year. (and we didn’t have a doctor’s appointment that conflicted with the party either!)

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