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I Knew He’d Ask Why Mommy’s ‘Different,’ but I Wasn’t Prepared for This

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When I got pregnant with my first son, I was ecstatic my lifelong dream of becoming a mom was coming true. I started preparing and reading up on what my baby was doing each week. I knew I’d have some physical challenges I’d have to learn to overcome. I had to do everything with one hand.  Changing diapers was an interesting learning curve. This is because I live with spastic hemiplegia, which is a form of cerebral palsy. My right arm is affected by weakness and low muscle tone. I have a moderate speech impediment as well.

I also knew one day the question would come about why mommy was “different” than others.

Well, that day came a day after his fourth birthday. I thought I was prepared, but the innocence in his inquiry was just too much. We were reading his bedtime story, and he asked why my hand was the way it is.  I said, “It is just the way I was born. Everyone has differences; you have brown eyes, and I have blue. Differences make us interesting and unique.” He sat there holding my hand and asked, “Can we go to the doctor to see if they could get your fingers to move like mine?” I was hit with a ball of emotions. It took everything I had to say, “Sweetie, there’s nothing anyone can do to fix me. I am who I am, and that’s OK.” He replied, “You are my mommy, and I love you the way you are.”

Lori and her son posing near a bench in a park

After I got him to bed, kissed his head and said, “I love you,” I crept out the door with my eyes filled with tears. My husband was sitting in the living room and saw me sobbing. I told him about our conversation, about how my sweet little son loved me for who I was. My husband hugged me and said, “I do, too.” I went to bed that night with a heart full of happiness and joy.

I knew from that day on, it didn’t matter what others thought of me. All that matters is I’m Mommy. A loving, caring mommy who comes to the rescue when he’s sad or hurt. A mommy who gives great hugs and kisses. A mommy who would do anything for him.

Our conversation healed scars left from my childhood, scars of low self-esteem and thoughts of worthlessness. I was made fun of for how I talked, and for the way I held my arm. I was called the dreaded, awful R-word, “stupid,” “baby” and so on. I had very low self-esteem and would often go to the bathroom just to cry. My friends were always there to stick up for me, and it helped, but nothing could take the pain completely away.

Children are born innocent. They thrive on the guidance and love of their parents to learn and grow. As parents, we need to teach our children how to be empathetic and have respect for others. We need to be role models for them, as they mimic everything we do and say.

I hope one day, my boys will be an example for their peers. I hope they’ll teach them not to bully or degrade people with disabilities, but to respect them like any other person, and maybe even make a new friend.

Lori and her two sons sitting together at home

Originally published: July 8, 2015
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