Growing up I always wanted to be a mother, I never thought my life would be what it is today. As a woman in a wheelchair, society has taught me that there is no hope for me to live a “normal” life, but I know now that that’s not true.
I was born with spastic cerebral palsy causing me to be a wheelchair user and then later diagnosed with muscle dystonia which affects my muscles causing them to stiffen up but luckily, there’s a medicine for that. I was born in 1991, back then doctors weren’t as educated about my specific case as they might be today, at least the doctors in Galveston, Texas. When my mom got the news that her third baby girl had CP and wasn’t going to live to see 5 years old she was utterly devastated. To be honest, she was angry. Being a Christian woman she didn’t understand why God would give her a, for lack of a better term, “broken” child especially after having 2 healthy babies. My mom was 20 years old when she had me, I can only imagine how much of a burden that was at the time, especially knowing she just had a baby that was expected to die in 5 years. So as I grew up and surpassed my expiration date the doctors decided “Oh, well since she made it to 5 she’s not going to make it to 12, but if she does she’s going to need your help for the rest of her life.” All my mom could think was, “This is bullshit! There’s no way these doctors can put an expiration date on something that God has blessed me with.” I think that’s when she realized that she has to do whatever it takes to see that I live as much of a “normal” life as possible no matter what the future holds for me.
Let’s fast forward to adulthood.
I moved out of my mother's house when I was 20, reluctantly, she let me go. I remember her being so scared for me but we both knew it was time. That’s when my journey to finding myself began. I began dating and like most humans, I had to make a lot of mistakes before I got to where I am today, a secure disabled mother who loves her life. I always wanted to be married and have kids someday and though I was told that I could have kids, I never really thought that I would. I never believed that a man would want to marry someone like me. I was even told by a man that he would hate to have kids with me because he didn’t want them to be like me, physically and personality-wise. Disgusting, I know! I’m 31 years old and I’m married to the love of my life and we have 3 kids together. I love being a wife and mother, and even though it can be overwhelming, I’m incredibly blessed and grateful that this is my life. Being a mom has taught me so much about myself and motherhood has opened my eyes to see things in a new light. As women with disabilities, we already encounter a lot of judgmental opinions about the way we should do things for our children or what we shouldn’t do that the average mom doesn’t do. In a sense, I understood what my mom was feeling at 20 years old when she had me, but the shoe was on the other foot. I remember this one time, maybe about a year after having my first child. I was taking care of my son and I just started crying because I had an intrusive thought that I would never be able to run around the park with my son. The idea of that made me incredibly sad. Why did that thought come to mind? Because an old friend of mine once told me that if I were ever to have children I wouldn’t be able to give them a childhood and then they gave me that example. The sad thing is that I believed it! I believed that my restrictions will, in turn, restrict my child and I hated myself for it but here I am 4 years later taking my 2 older children to the park regularly, keeping up with them in my power chair like a boss mom!
If one of your aspirations is to be a mother someday or you’re already a mother but you’re feeling a bit discouraged in any way, I hope that these tips help you in some way or another.
Don’t let what people think, say, and do dictate your future.
I used to be affected HEAVILY by others and the things they would say to or about me to the point of depression. I would be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with that, but I can say that I am overcoming it. I’m learning how to navigate through life and motherhood just like the rest of the world, and for me, that looks like not allowing other individuals to persuade me into doing what THEY think I should be doing and striving toward what God has planned for me. Handling every situation, every struggle, and every step of motherhood to the best of my abilities because I’m not living for anyone else. Live by your expectations because you know yourself better than anyone else, you know exactly what you’re capable of.
Always try to remember how strong you are!
Now, if you’re already a mother or a mommy-to-be then this one's for you! I know that in my life as I’m on this journey called motherhood, disabled or not, it is a challenge and can be emotionally strenuous. I’m blessed to have friends and other moms in my life who remind me that I am strong and that I’m doing a great job as a mother, even better than some abled-bodied moms. If you don’t have that in your life then I would be more than happy to be that for you, or you can also join some Facebook groups where you can meet all kinds of moms with disabilities, “moms with disabilities” is a great one.
Smile through the journey.
As I said earlier, parenting is a challenge. Inevitably, you’re going to have your patience, sanity, anger management and so much more being tested regularly, it’s an emotional rollercoaster. For me, smiling and staying calm are helpful but I’m not going to lie, I still struggle. My kids definitely “test my gangsta”, but smiling or steady breathing truly helps maintain my sanity. When all of that is held together, then the physical challenges of motherhood, being disabled, aren’t so hard to deal with. Smile and breathe.
Don’t settle for the standards that society or the people around you set for you. I can assure you, that most people in my life, friends, family, teachers, and doctors never thought I’d be where I am today, and KILLING IT by the way! Just saying. One thing I like to say is that I’m DISABLED, not UNABLE.