Susan's Blog

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Stealth Mommer

I decided to be the Stealth Mommer today. I was so anxious as I drove to Nat’s workplace. But I told myself there was no need to worry, that I would not let him see me. He would not detect a blip in the Shaw’s parking lot forcefield and freak out. And why should he freak out that his mom was shopping there? Well, because it is Nat and me. We are connected by an invisible umbilical cord. That is not meant to infantilize him. It is a statement of fact, that our connection is deep and eternal. I’ve mentioned my plans to haunt him, yes? I do not plan to lie passively in some grave somewhere while he goes on trying to figure out this damned complicated world. Nor will I be a Mombie, chewing up his life. I plan to be a wisp of a presence in his soul, a memory, comforting and guiding him.

Okay, well, I don’t believe in afterlife, so that probably won’t happen. It sucks that we have to die and leave our kids to grieve and muddle through. Sucks doesn’t even begin to describe it, actually, but I don’t feel like dwelling in my saddest place today. Because I saw Nat at work.

Anyway… I planned to observe covertly. But soon after going into the store I almost bumped right into him. He was in profile, tall and sure in his navy down jacket (Yay! Warmly dressed!). He did not notice me, and went safely past me with his coworker and coach, pushing carts, smiling, talking to himself. So happy they don’t bug him about stimming. I kept watching him from afar. He went from carts to stacking the baskets, with the use of Amish Baskets for this. His coach was right there with him, which surprised me — I thought they were fading back a bit. But I leave that decision to them.

I then ventured closer and closer. I asked a Shaw’s worker if she knew him and she said, “Nate? Your Nate’s mom? Oh, he’s great!” I wanted to hug her. But I smiled and thanked her and left her with her table of sample cake slices. Nat had moved around to the other entrance.

I must confess that I gave in to my hovering mothering tendencies and finally let Nat see me. I stood still, 15 feet away, and removed my sunglasses. Right away he said, “Hi.” but just kept walking. I sheepishly introduced myself to the job coach. We shook hands, and she was smiling so much. She also told me how “He’s so great.”

I worried that Nat would be knocked off balance because I was there. So I said casually, “Nat, I’m shopping because I needed some food for the weekend!”


“I got you brownies!”


“I’ll see you soon, tonight, for supper!”


I went back to my car and drove past them again, an odd trio: tall blond Nat, short round coworker, tall thin smiling coach.

I sighed with happiness over my son. This is called “nachas” in Yiddish (pronounced “nakhahs”). Nachas is a perfect way to end one’s week, seeing a so-called “disabled” young man who is a treasured employee and fellow great guy to them. Plus now I have brownies.


Oh how many times I’ve wished I could go to my son’s school to observe without anyone knowing I was there. To put my fears to rest (a little). What a gift to see our kids doing well and treated well when we are not there!

— added by Lisa C on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Nice read…

I find myself stalking any group of folks that are out shopping or gallivanting in the community who-I know are part of a program. I follow them in the store, get behind them in line, and then follow them out to their van. I’m watching, looking for anything that I would not like if my daughter was in that group. I am harsh in my lens of the staff. I pay particular attention to how they interact with the group. Are they paying attention, answering the questions, keeping them engaged, laughing, joking, enjoying being out with them? I find myself ready to pounce if I see anything suspect or even remotely neglectful.

This week I saw a group while I was shopping at Family Dollar. They were such a fun, talkative bunch. Most of them were talkative… one guy was very quiet. And they all loved “Danny” the staff person with this large group of seven. Danny was laughing and interacting with everyone, commenting on their purchase choices, reminding them to stay in line and that “we are done shopping now it’s -time to pay-up!” They laughed and patted him on his back. He watched everyone who was making an independent purchase pay-and say thank you to the gal at the register. He was beaming with pride and engaged in playful banter with those who were done. And that one guy… that quiet guy, Danny was partially observant of him. Keeping him close, carefully watching his signals and including him.

The whole group seemed to spin off of Danny and patt this fellow on his back, and spoke to him encouragingly, lovingly just like good friends do. I was moved to tears. I loved Danny and his merry band of friends, shopping, out for romp, talking, laughing, joking, and caring about each other.
I then did the extreme… I followed them out to the van and asked Danny… “What program are you with? Your were such a delightful group to see.” ‘ Baycove City square” he replied. Followed by a few folks chiming in… Yea Baycove Baby! I told them thank you and to have a great day. Then the quiet fellow smiled at me… something soared in my heart. They were all OK. I could move on, and every parent, or loved one attached this happy crew could be ok with where they are and what they are doing in this brief moment.
Of course I don’t know any of them are-or their loved ones, so I sent up to God, a quiet “Thank-you” for Danny and this great group I had the pleasure of interfacing with today.

If I end up at Nat’s Shaws you can be sure I will be watching there too!

— added by Lauri Medeiros on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Thank you, Laurie My Dear Madeiros.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 7:38 pm

How I love, love, love reading this 🙂

— added by Kal on Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 8:12 am

I’m afraid if that had been my son, Matthew he would have rushed up to me the minute he saw me and said “mom, are you here to pick me up?”

— added by Sharon Jones on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm

🙂 Sharon, Nat is all business when it comes to schedules.

— added by Susan Senator on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Words for my soul- thank you for sharing this experience. I hope so much for something similar for Justin one day. My favorite part though was your last sentence in the first paragraph- beautiful, and haunting in itself. My wish too!

— added by kim mccafferty on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Hooray for Nat, and his awesome work ethic!!

Jared is just starting to volunteer and he had two opportunities this week. The New Orleans Children’s Museum, like most museums, is closed on Monday. Now, once a month, the museum will be opened up to special needs kids, and Jsred’s art therapist suggested he come and help her set up. Initially, she just wanted him to set out chairs and supplies, but he stayed with her and helped the little kids do their art project. Did a great job, but that was just warm up for this Saturday at the train garden at City Park.

A whole bunch of train enthusiasts lost their tracks and set up to Hurricane Katrina, so they have reassembled with some City funding at City Park, which is completely operated by volunteers. Model trains run on tracks that mimic the track layout in New Orleans, it’s pretty cool. Anyhoo, Jared stays up pretty late to watch Narutoon Friday night, but he jumped out of bed to get ready. He ran a leaf blower to clear the leaves off the path and the tracks, set up chairs, and laid out train memorabilia. I would have thought a leaf blower would make him jump out of his skin, but he loved it. Next week we’ll send him back with earplugs.

So great seeing his enthusiasm, and willingness to help others. Who’d have thunk it?

— added by Lisa Richardson on Monday, September 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm

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