From the moment we find out that we are going to be parents, worry begins to kick in. Doubts and fears we never gave even half a thought to creep into the back of our heads. What will the kid look like?Will I be a good parent? Will I know what to do in (insert situation) We worry about everything from feedings, to late nights to disciplining actions. And I am/was no different, except there was another worry that crept into the back of my head.
Will he love me for me? Will he accept me for what I am?
This may seem like an unusual fear, but believe me it was a legitimate fear. As a mother with a disability of her own I feared I wouldn’t be able to really provide my kid(s) with the kind of same love that others could. I know there wouldn’t be things I couldn’t do with him physically-like show him how to cut meat. Or tie a shoe. Yes I could give them unconditional love, and read stories to them. But sometimes late at night I stared up at my ceiling and wondered if it would really be enough.
I feared that they would grow up hating me because they would see all the other mothers in all their normalcy and wonder why they weren’t able to have a mother like little Johnny’s. Or Sammy’s. Will they get teased as they grow up because of this? Believe me kids are cruel. I know this first hand. I know what its like to have a staple gun to the face, to be pushed and shoved into things, down things. To be called names by classmates. They don’t understand, they will tease, they will torture and they will laugh. And will my own kids be the subject of such bullying? Because of me? I hated that thought.
I never once thought that my kid(s) would be the one to bully. To act out on those that are less fortunate than they were. I didn’t want to think they would be the kind to do such horrible acts on anyone. Maybe I didn’t think this because deep down I feared this. Yes, that’s exactly it. I would rather wish for them to be the kind of kid to stick up for anyone. To help those kids that remind me so much of myself.
Would he understand?
Explaining it to adults is hard enough. How does one explain it to a kid? Would he even get it? I knew I was years away from even really having to address this, and for the first few years it will be referred to as simply my bad hand, as it was referred to during the my years of babysitting. But I knew eventually it will have to be addressed. And when it does, will he actually understand? How do I explain? Or will there just be this unspoken agreement that he won’t know.
Yes I worried about all of these things.
But something happened last night that I had never expected. Last night, I discovered that there was in fact a positive in being a mother with a disability. You see as I was walking him up the stairs last night I held out my left hand for him to grab on to when he stopped me.
‘No, no no mommy.’ He said shaking his head and looking up at me with those beautiful grey eyes. ‘I want to hold your bad hand. Is that ok? I can hold on to it right? I like this one.’ I stuck out my hand, which was stiff but still he grabbed onto it like it was soft and warm and as if it didn’t bother him in the least. The moment seemed to freeze as he looked up at me and smiled. ‘I don’t mind holding this hand mommy, do you?’ He held onto the hand the entire two flights of stairs and only let go when he hit the bedroom. I couldn’t remember the last time anyone had given that hand so much attention.
As I walked down the stairs, I thought about all those fears and negative thoughts I had, had a couple of years ago and how the one thing I hadn’t counted on was a positive. And here it is. My disability is normal to him, he is growing up as if its his every day life. I am raising him to be compassionate and understanding and loving. He is growing up knowing that beauty and ability and love comes in all forms.
I know there are other fears ahead, girls and dates. Getting hurt on the ice. And in the future I am sure they will have to be addressed. But being accepted for who I am, is no longer one of them