Our Family Is Not Defined by Disability

I started AB+Me over a year ago to help shed light on kids with disabilities and advocate for my daughter and kids like her. Becoming a family with disability has changed our lives, not better or worse — just different. It has opened my eyes to issues our society faces that I didn’t know existed. I am committed to making sure that my daughter is included in everything that she deserves: playgrounds, school, friends, community activities.

I want to help make kids with disabilities “normal” in the eyes of society, where they’re not stared at for needing wheelchairs or feeding tubes, a society where kids don’t think twice about it. I love informing anyone I can about cerebral palsy, epilepsy and incontinentia pigmenti; to help everyone relate to Annie and realize she is just a little girl like other kids. She wants to be accepted and played with. These disabilities and disorders have become part of our life and are our new normal, I don’t see myself as a “special needs” mom — I’m just a mom.

I wake up every day and go into Tanner’s room, where he pretends to sleep through my efforts to get him up and ready for school. Then I get Annebelle out of bed. I get them both dressed and ready for the day, pack Tanner’s lunch and venture out into the world to walk him to the bus.

My days are full. Annie is a kid who seems to be constantly getting into stuff and making a mess. I drop Tanner off at the bus and picking him back up in the afternoons. I make Annie meals that she refuses to eat and Tanner asks for macaroni and cheese after I spend two hours making a healthy, balanced dinner. I struggle with disciplining both my kids so they know I love them but grow up to be amazing adults. I teach Tanner that I know being 5 is hard but as life gets harder it also gets better. Annebelle is an adorable little girl who has had to deal with more than a 2-year-old should, but she still pushes my buttons. I second guess myself and worry that I am not doing enough for my kids.

I let my kids stay in pajamas all day on Saturdays while we cuddle and watch movies. I read them stories and we go on imaginary adventures.

Motherhood is everything I imagined and more, Annebelle’s disabilities have become a part of who we are, but they don’t define our family. We are more than what people see as a “special needs” family. We’re a loving, amazing, loud, imperfect family.

We’re a family.

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