What does it mean to be a disabled mom? It means not being able to run and jump and climb with your child. It means not being able to get down on the floor to play. It means having to say "Momma doesn't go fast, honey." It means having to say "Momma can't climb the slide, but I'll watch you!" It means sitting or standing on the sidelines, watching other parents play with their child in ways you can't play with yours.
Being a disabled mom means that I do things differently with my child. It means I have to get creative and find ways to work around my limitations so that I can still give my child everything they need. It means that I take a great amount of pride in what I do accomplish and the relationship I have with my child, because I had to work really hard to get here.
Being a disabled mom also means that my son has grown up with the expectation that if he is capable of something, he will do it. He carries his own dishes. He carries things for me when I ask him to. Not even 2 and a half, and he knows where to put all his laundry, where his shoes go, where momma's shoes go, he empties his own potty, he will run and grab my phone and bring it to me if I forget it. He is a very helpful child, and it makes my life so much easier.
Being a disabled mom DOESN'T mean I ignore my child. It doesn't mean I don't play with my child. And more than anything, it doesn't mean I take this for granted.
I hate telling my son I can't get on the floor with him. I hate it. But I know that I am teaching him valuable lessons, I am teaching my son about limits and about not always getting what he wants. I never just tell him "no." I say "Momma can't get on the floor. Can we play in the window?" We have a large bay window in our house, and it's the perfect height for him and for me to sit in a chair and play. We play cars and blocks in the window a lot.
Being a disabled mom means making choices. It means deciding what is worth pushing myself for. It means knowing that if I do x, y, and z I will be unable to do a, b, and c. Being a disabled mom means choosing to be a mom before anything else. It means consciously putting my child and their needs above my own. It means never taking for granted the ability to pick up my child. It means relishing every game and every time I get to carry him around.
I've been nearly paralyzed from the waist down. I've been in a wheelchair. I've been confined to bed. I've been unable to feed myself, let alone take care of anyone else.
I've been there. And I know I can go there again. So I focus on every single day I have to be Mommy. People are always saying "enjoy these moments, they are gone too soon." They don't know how true those words ring to me. I know this could all change tomorrow. I know.
Being a disabled mom means living and doing and being, no matter what. I focus on today. On right now. I focus on these moments. I don't think about tomorrow or next week or next year. Right now is what I have, and I want to be the best mom, right now, that I can be.
It also means I try not to live in the past. I try to forget whatever mistakes were made yesterday. Every day is new, for me and for my child. We had a rough day yesterday? Big deal. That was yesterday. I'm not going to judge today by that.
Being a disabled mom means being forced to slow down and appreciate all the small things.
When I was laying in a hospital bed in October, 2006... I had no idea what I could possible do with my life. I gave up, I stopped fighting.
I never give up now. I never stop fighting through the challenges or the bad days. Because every bad day I have now is worth more than the good days I had before I was disabled. It's cliche, but it's true.
I'm a disabled mom. And I choose to believe that I am a better mom because of it.