Thursday, September 13, 2012

When Reality Steps In

I have no illusions about my life. I do not lie to myself or to others about my capabilities. I do not make excuses and I make every effort to live my life to the fullest, while still keeping my limitations in mind. I have always said that I do my best and I do things differently. And that is fine.

When I became a mother I swore that I would find a way to be the best parent I could be. I swore that my disabilities would have as little impact on my child(ren) as possible. I swore that I would find a way to do everything I needed to do.

And until today, I have done that. Until today I truly believed that I could protect and shield my child(ren) from the reality of my illness while they were small. Until today I truly believed that if I just tried hard enough and pushed enough and if I just put my mind to it I could figure out a way to do everything I needed to for them.

Until today there had never been a situation that I couldn't handle. Until today I had never had to ask someone else for help with my child. Until today I had never had to face the fact that I physically was unable to help or to protect my child. Until today I didn't know what it meant to feel utterly helpless and hopeless.

We went to an indoor play space today called Jumpin' Jax. It is filled with a variety of bounce houses. My son had a good time, he was enjoying himself and playing. I would watch from the side, and everything was fine.

Until he followed some kids in to the biggest structure. He apparently reached a point where he couldn't proceed. He was unable to climb up the wall he needed to to go forward, and he couldn't go up the slide to go backwards. So he began to scream for me. He began to cry. He was frantic.

I tried to go inside to help him. I told him I was coming. And when I was suddenly faced with the fact that I was disabled and pregnant, that I could barely walk inside the structure, let alone climb to where he was, I became frantic.

I tried. I pushed. I willed my body to JUST WORK, to just let me get over this stupid 4 foot tall wall and get to my child. I begged myself to just find a way, to just make it happen. But I could not. I couldn't get up. I couldn't move. I was listening to my frantic child screaming for me, begging me to come get him, to help him - and there was nothing I could do. I had to leave him there, screaming, while I used all of my energy to get out of the structure and try to keep myself together while I asked an employee for help.

They helped him. The employee quickly and easily scaled the wall that defeated me. She rescued my child, who was still screaming and crying, who ran red faced, sweaty, with tear trails down him face to me. He clung to me, sobbing. I don't know how I found the strength to carry him to a chair. But I did, and then I collapsed, holding him, both of us crying.

I've dealt with disappointment before. But I have never had to feel like I completely and utterly failed my child. I couldn't help him. I physically was incapable of getting to him, I was unable to be the person who saved him.

It's not like when he's sick and I can't cure it - because this is purely a failing of my body. Another mom could have helped her child. Another adult DID help my child. The employee had no special training, she did not prescribe a pill or a test... she simply had a working body.

And I don't.

I worry that my child will feel that he can't trust me. I know this is unfounded. I know that it was ME he wanted to cling to when he was out. It was ME that he wanted for protection. It was ME who he cuddled and held on to. I know, logically, that he is undamaged and that this is one of many times that I will have to ask for help.

I know that I did the right thing. I know that being able to recognize my limitations and to not feel any shame about asking someone to help me is a good thing. I know that. But I simply cannot put in to words how much it hurts me to face the fact that I can't protect him.

I have never felt so utterly broken and defeated as I do right now. I have never felt unsure of my ability to be a parent. But I felt it today.

Now I am left with trying to figure out how I reconcile these feelings and this experience with trying to keep our lives full and interesting. How do I prevent this from tuning me in to a recluse? How do I go in to new situations without this fear hanging over me?

I just want to be the best parent I can be. And now I fully realize that being the best I can be does not mean being able to do everything... but it does mean that I need to try and better assess a situation before it's become a crisis. It means that I need to know my limits better. It means that I have to realize that it's better to ask for help sooner than later.

My son is fine. When I was crying while writing this he said "Momma, don't be upset. Momma no be sad. I love you." And I know that he's ok. I know that he doesn't hold it against me.

Now all I need to do is figure out how to not hold it against myself.

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