Our son, Zane, has a feeding tube. I’ve never been shy about feeding him wherever we are. I liken it to breastfeeding or bottle feeding a baby. It’s how my kid eats, and it’s part of life. Is it a little uncomfortable? Sometimes! But our lives are uncomfortable, and it’s just our new normal.
In restaurants, though, we do try to keep it on the downlow. We recognize that some people have weak stomachs and seeing syringes and blenderized food could make them squirmy. Usually we’re in a booth and I put Zane closest to the wall so people don’t really notice what’s going on. But yesterday we were eating lunch with a bride and groom and one of their friends, and we were seated in the very middle of a restaurant. Josh had met the groom before, but otherwise it was all our first times meeting.
Have you ever been somewhere and know you’re about to cause a scene? This was us yesterday. There were easily 100 people in that side of the restaurant that could all have a clear view of Zane. There was no hiding it. And I didn’t want to freak out this sweet couple and their friend! But Zane needed to eat.
I whispered to Josh, “Do you want me to just take him outside to feed him?”
“No. This is how he eats… I’ll do it.” <— Can we just take a break and talk about how my husband is superman? He knew I was uncomfortable and so he took the load off of me. Friends, take note– that is sacrifice and love!
I smiled and tried to keep conversation going while Josh started the feeding process. I can’t even tell you how many people were staring from tables around us. I don’t mind stares, but I really hoped we weren’t ruining their lunches. Our new friends were so nice and easy to get along with, and I just hoped we weren’t making them uncomfortable.
And then… the groom’s face lit up as he told his friend, “Hey, he has the same thing you do!”
I had no idea the man I sitting next to me had a feeding tube too. Not only that, but two weeks ago he’d been given a difficult, life altering diagnosis and had only had the tube for a week, and hadn’t even used it yet!
The guys face lit up. I can’t pretend to know what he was feeling inside, but I can only imagine that the tube in his stomach was a constant reminder that his life has changed so drastically, so quickly.
You guys… do you see? If we had quietly taken Zane out of the restaurant to feed him, that would have said, “This is gross and shouldn’t be public.” That’s what our example would have been– that it’s something to hide. Instead, God worked directly through Josh to normalize it for someone who probably really needed to see that.
We have a joke in our household. We’ve joked that our family hashtag should be #HereComeTheFowlers because we’re like a traveling circus. Don’t get me wrong, we’re stealth on a wedding day, but when we’re together as a family, we’re loud, and you’d think there were seven of us, but there’s just four.
It’s funny how God uses us. It’s my tendency to try and downplay our loud lives, but over and over, God has used it to bring others together. It’s neat, to be more free to be me. And it’s neat to see that God made me this way for a reason– for His glory. We share a lot about our lives on social media and it’s fun for us to share– and it’s also brought us together with a lot of people. There have been people who have helped guide us along this path, and in return, there are others that we get to be a part of their journey.