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The First Time I Saw My Daughter in a Wheelchair

Thursday was the big day. I actually thought we were just measuring my daughter, Adelaide, so I mentally prepared for her being fussy while I answered a bunch of questions about what she can and can’t do. I physically prepared by bringing snacks upon snacks. I wore my favorite scarf because it makes me feel gorgeous.


But then he said, “I brought a chair for her to try out. The vendor dropped it off. It’s too small for her, but you can see what we are looking at for Addie.” I responded with the fakest enthusiasm I could muster. I was not ready to see Adelaide in the chair, all strapped in and not walking.

I was all smiles and overly positive. “Awesome. This is great. You’re such a big girl. This is great! What fun! Look at you, so big in that chair! This is so great!” The moment I’d been dreading for more than two years was here, and I was not ready.



I felt like I’d given up our dream of walking. And then I felt guilty because we have friends whose children will never walk. And so what? What if Adelaide never walks? The world doesn’t end. I realized that I’ve placed some finish line in my mind. Like walking is the end-all milestone. Like walking validates all the therapy. Like walking makes up for everything she can’t do. But it’s just motion. It’s not a measure of her life. Or her impact on everyone around her.

But the chair, it will improve all our lives. We’ll be able to go places that can’t accommodate her stroller. Adelaide will be able to sit at tables when we go to Chick-fil-A. She’ll be able to see things from a different vantage point. She will, hopefully, be able to steer it herself and have some independence.

And maybe we will get to experience Adelaide walking, and maybe we won’t. If we do, we’re having a bumblebee party. A huge party.

But I’m done fixating on bipedal locomotion. Adelaide is more than legs. And she deserves a mom who believes in her but sees walking for what it is: a skill. And a wheelchair for what it is: a tool.


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