Today is Mother's Day and someone posted an article about how being a mother is the hardest job there is. I would like to take it a step further and say being a mother with a disability is like performing the hardest job there is, with your hands tied behind your back.
When you are a mother with a disability, there is a moment when your child becomes stronger than you and too big for you to pick up. This moment has been, by far, the most difficult moment in my life - harder than any other step pre or post injury. It's the moment when you are stripped of your independence for a second time and replaced with helplessness and defeat. It is the pivitol moment in motherhood that most mothers will not face. Sure there may be times when other mothers feel this way, like being in the grocery store when the mother-load of all temper tantrums ensues, or they haven't showered or slept for days - please don't get me wrong or think I am insensitive, I know all aspects of motherhood are difficult, but those feelings are for the most part temporary, and you can do things like take a long weekend to recharge. For a mother with a disability, this moment becomes the new normal, and not letting it get to you is way easier said than done.
My little Charlie now knows this and uses it to his advantage on a regular basis. I went through a phase of yelling and threatening of time-out in my sternest voice possible, but quickly realized he was literally laughing in my face, "Yeah right Mom, you and I both know there is nothing you can do about the current situation so you may as well just deal with it. I'm out." Mind you, Charlie is the best little boy there is 96% of the time. However his other 4% I'm convinced is not him at all, and a sneaky, defiant spirit has actually taken over his body, for I do not recognize that little boy. That little boy is conniving and so distracted that he cannot hear me no matter how loud I scream. So we have decided that it's best if Screaming Mommy and Sneaky Spirit are no longer invited to the party.
I have learned the power of distraction and pretending not to care. When he realizes that he is not getting Mommy worked up, it is no longer fun for Charlie, er Demon Child, to defy me. However, that does not change the fact he is still stronger than me, and I am unable to pick him up when I need to take control of a situation or pull him out of harm's way. My core just isn't quite strong enough for me to bend down, hold him with both hands and lift both of us up together - hell, I can't even lift myself up without the use of my arms. So back to my initial point, motherhood, or the so-called "Hardest Job There Is" topped with a disability should, in my opinion, really be an olympic sport.
On the other, more optimistic hand, I will be the first to tell you how grateful I am that Charlie gets to grow up with a disabled mother. Yes, you read that correctly. There is no better way for a child to become strong and independent than to strip away his assistance. I can see that if I did not have a disability, I would be one of those mothers who does everything possible for their kid, forgetting the importance of them figuring it out on their own. I can feel the urge to do things for him and spoil him rotten, however all I can do is want to do it, rather than act on it. My hands are tied and I just have to say, "Sorry Charlie, you want it, you have to figure out how to get it". Mommy can't reach the Oreos in the upper cabinet, Mommy can't reach that toy that is stuck under the couch, Mommy can't hold you up in the pool and teach you to swim, pick you up when you have fallen down, put you into your stroller, put you into the swing, take you down the water slide, carry you across the hot sand, teach you how to surf or even reach to get your blanket out of the stacked dryer... But, I can cheer you on patiently while you figure it out, provide a ladder on wheels so you can climb up me to reach your Oreos, provide a step for you to get up into the swing, hold the stroller steady so you can climb into it yourself, watch Daddy take you down the water slide and then wait for you at the bottom with excitement, show you how to slide a yard stick under the couch to get your toy, not get angry when you open the dishwasher so you can stand on the door to get your cup left on the counter, stand by and watch your independence soar as you figure things out on your own, hoot and holler in utter amazement as you try to mimic how mommy and daddy swim, testing your own limits as you hold your breath and wave underwater, smile with gratitude as you get so excited to help mommy with laundry (which has become one of your favorite things to do) and kiss your owwie, brush it off and show it isn't a big deal when you fall and scrape your knee.
The boy you have already turned into and the man you will become are built from the strong will inside you, thrives on independence and confidence in your own ability, with a deep compassion and desire to help. Charlie you amaze me. I have a slight idea of the type of mother I would have been had I not had a disability, and I'm grateful that was taken away from me, for I think it would have robbed you from these beautiful qualities. You have been given a huge gift by having a mommy in a wheelchair. You will be a better man, friend and father because of it. You are one compassionate, strong-willed, confident, smart, capable, happy kid, which I could not have raised without the help of my disability.