Coping with a disability brings a unique dimension to motherhood. Being a good, responsible and loving mother takes a lot of energy and time. Mothers don’t get a practice session or training on how to raise a child. You must learn as you go and turn mistakes into wisdom. With a disability, you are lucky to gain even more wisdom.
Every disability is different, especially in terms of what we can and can’t do for our children. As anyone with a disability knows, we learn how to adapt and create new ways of doing tasks. Are you unable to hold your baby and rock her to sleep? Try using a vibrating bouncy seat. I could not live without bouncy seats for both of my babies. Although I couldn’t hold them, I would have someone place them in their bouncy seats and I’d get very close. I could talk to them, kiss them and make eye contact. I learned that it was fine to do things an entirely new way as long as my babies were safe and loved.
Being a mother with a disability also means using your strengths at their absolute best. Our strengths can overshadow our weaknesses. For example, I’m organized and try to foresee any problems or needs my children might have. I also have a vivid imagination, so if I can’t steer a toy train around my son’s wooden track or jump rope with my daughter, I can create a story as they play and be completely present. I can listen to every word with love and respect. I can encourage their minds, dreams and aspirations. I can set up play dates and fun activities to create lifelong memories. I can be their biggest fan for the rest of my life. I can hope that what I do for them is far more important than what I cannot do.
Many people compliment my children and think that having a mom with a disability somehow transformed them into being perfect. My children are beautiful, intelligent, kind, funny and awesome. But they are still human beings and need guidance. Yes, they probably know the importance of accessibility and wheelchair repair more than the average person. But my cerebral palsy doesn’t consume their lives and their activities. They live mostly as they would regardless of my disability. They might have a broader understanding of differences, be more responsible for their belongings because they know I won’t pick them up, and be more helpful. But they also have typical tantrums, get angry with me over normal things, argue with each other, and do all of the normal “kid things,” regardless of my capabilities.
Being a mother with a disability isn’t too different from being any other mother. At the end of the day, I worry if I’ve loved them enough, spent time with them and listened. Sometimes I feel down that I can’t run with them, pick them up or take them on an adventure in a car because I can’t drive.
But what I can’t do as a mother only pushes me to succeed in what I can do. At the end of the day, my children hug and kiss me and can’t wait to spend another day together. So, I guess I’m doing a pretty good job.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.