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The Choices I Can Make as a Parent With a Disability

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I’m a mother, a wife and in a wheelchair. I’m no inspiration, just a Mama. I’d like to find people like myself who are also parents, who live everyday lives, to see how they’ve overcome obstacles I haven’t yet faced or even just to share the ones we have together. I don’t know if I’m right, but I’m pretty sure we have different obstacles to tackle then other parents; it might be nice to relate to someone.

It’s just a learning curve, finding​ new ways to interact with your child. Don’t be afraid of having children because of your disability. Everyone has a disability; ours is just easier to see — that’s something my mama always told me. You’ll figure it out.

When my daughter was smaller, she learned I needed her to pick up her toys off the floor because if Mama rolls on them she’ll break them. It helped my house not be taken over with toys. Not being able to pick her up when she got hurt sucked, but I was still there every second to kiss the boo boos away and make them all better. She would strap herself into my seatbelt in my chair. She even learned to get in the chair with me by herself by the time she was 2.

I talked to her constantly, and because of that she started talking at 7 months old. I might not have been able to play with her on the floor, but we had “highchair time” and would go over her flashcards. So she knew her​ colors, shapes and alphabet at 2, and even her address by 3. Like any mother, I want to dress up my little girl and do her hair all cute, but I can’t lift my hands anymore so my husband is usually left to that task. He’s actually learned how to French braid recently. But it helped them bond more, I think. He does so much for the both of us! He “rises up” (to quote Andra Day) for me every day! He does things other parents might take for granted.

Making a list has helped me as a disabled mother. I always have a list going, my “did ya?” list. Did ya brush your teeth, hang up your towel, have your school clothes ready for tomorrow, get your lunch money, do your​ homework, need a note to be picked up, take the trash out etc. My life isn’t fabulous; I have days when I hurt or even get depressed and have my own little pity party, but I try to smile for the​ most part because I have a blessed life.

I have a loving husband and a beautiful daughter, not to mention an amazing family. I’m happy to be here with my family and able to make memories with them. If we do things I can’t physically participate in, I’m OK with being the cheerleader, the picture taker. I’m a good supervisor. I’d hate for my family to miss out on things because I can’t always do them; it doesn’t seem fair.

I don’t know about “regular” parents — maybe everybody does, but I worry about “leaving” sooner than everyone else. Missing out on special events in her life. I also want to rock in a rocking chair on our front porch with my husband one day, old and wrinkly. But I can’t dwell on that, it would consume me. So I tell myself, people slip and fall in the shower everyday or get in car accidents, and some of those people are perfectly healthy. Every day is precious. So I’m gonna try my damnedest to be optimistic, to be present.

Being sad or angry at the world about my situation won’t help me walk again. That’s not something I can control — but I can control how I treat the people I love, the people who help me day in and day out, how I look at life. I choose to be happy; I choose joy. If not for me, for her! I try to teach her that even a bad or hard situation will be a funny story one day. Our struggles make us who we are, the people and parents we are. I guess what I’m trying to say is it may be hard at times, but I’ll take hard over never being a parent at all!

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Thinkstock image by Pimonova.

Originally published: August 27, 2017
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