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Focusing on What's Right When Parenting a Child With Disabilities

The other day at my daughter Callie’s orthopedic appointment, we had an X-ray done of her back. In addition to her other health issues, Callie has scoliosis. We have to do yearly X-rays, especially as she starts rapidly growing, just to monitor it. As the doctor displayed the X-ray on the screen, I immediately sucked in a breath — because how in the world could she walk with her spine like that?

But then my mind immediately flipped to the thought, “what a miracle.” What an absolute miracle she is — because for all intents and purposes, her spine did not look like it could hold up a butterfly, let alone this fierce little fire-breathing warrior. The doctor, seeing the look of wonder on my face, said softly, “It’s amazing that she can walk with so many abnormalities, but by the grace, her spine works just for her and she can.”

How true.

How true that instead of looking at what was “wrong” or “damaged,” we focused on what was right.

Instead of focusing on what was “broken,” we focused on what was amazingly put together for her.

Instead of focusing on the odds that were stacked against her, we focused on the fact that Callie can do anything she sets her mind to.

Instead of being buried under the challenges we faced, we focused on taking those challenges and using them to build the foundation on which we would stand.  So we would never find ourselves buried under the rubble, but standing on top of the mountain of accomplishments.

Instead of focusing on the loss of her leg, we focused on the gift of her prosthetic and her ability to be able to walk, run, ride horses and play like all the other kids. Callie didn’t lose anything with the amputation of her foot. Instead, she gained life with her prosthetic. She gained a purpose. She gained a mission. She gained a calling.

Instead of focusing on the scars on her chest showing her heart condition, we focus on the stories the scars tell.  Stories of the battles she’s fought, the warrior she is, and the fighter spirit that lights up her soul. Scars connect us and we focus on showing people those to remind them that everyone has scars — some visible and some not. Behind every scar is an untold story of survival. And our little warrior wears her scars well.

So in that hospital room, we focused on each of the gracefully formed white vertebrae that delicately balanced together to hold up our little warrior. Positioned “perfectly imperfectly” to allow her to be here. Fused together just so her perfection and flaws were the best of friends.

Without those imperfections, she wouldn’t be here.  So shouldn’t we celebrate them?