One day, when I was picking up my 4-year-old daughter from preschool, she came running out the door exclaiming, “Mommy! I have a new friend in my class; she has purple walking sticks. It’s soooo cool.” I looked up to see a girl with crutches who looked like she might have cerebral palsy. I politely smiled and said, “Wow, that is really cool.” I learned later that week that my daughter and this girl had become best buddies. So, naturally, I introduced myself to the child’s mom, and we have become good friends too.

I have since learned that having a child with a physical disability is not easy and can be heartbreaking. I have also learned that moms of children with physical disabilities are the strongest, most patient, and most incredible women in the world. I could never properly empathize with these moms, but I can certainly sympathize. This is what I see:

Dear fellow mom,

I see you. I see you making your child walk in the rain, even though carrying her would be easier. You do this because you know this will stretch her muscles and make her stronger. You know she must learn to walk, despite this New England weather. You taught her to crawl before she could stand, stand before she could walk. You know she must learn to walk before she can run.

I see you. I see you giving her independence and space. I see you letting her fall so she can learn to pick herself up — and not just pick herself up physically, but emotionally as well. I see you brushing her legs off and telling her, “Oops, sometimes we fall down.” But I know your heart is heavy every time you do.  

I see you. I see you watching and listening. You watch for the fall or an accident and you listen for a cry or protest. I am guessing you feel like you are never present or in the moment. You’re constantly waiting to help her and guide her. Parenting is essentially helping your child, but I know your version of “helping” is so different and more complex than mine.

I see you. I see you worrying. Will she be accepted by her peers? Will she be left out? Will her feelings get hurt if she is left behind? I see you worrying about the past. Did we make the right choices for her? I see you worrying about the present. Is she happy?

I want to tell you this: You are more. You are more patient, more resourceful, more brave, more strong, more consistent, and more proactive. You are, most of all, an incredible mother. You are dealing with issues most parents will never experience, and you are absolutely killing it! I admire, respect, and support you.  

Every child matters. Your child matters. She will grow up to accomplish the most amazing things. People will doubt her, but you never will. May your strength become her strength. May your patience become her patience. May your fierce love for her become her passion.


Your friend and fellow mom

Leah Lynch
Leah was raised in Greater Boston, where she met her husband in 2006. They moved to North Carolina for a few years before deciding their hearts were still in Massachusetts. Leah is a stay-at-home mom and has three children — boy, girl, boy — born in 2011, 2014, and 2017. Her oldest son in autistic. Children with disabilities — and the families raising them — have a special place in Leah's heart. She loves "The Office," date nights, tacos, U.S. history, and the beach. She enjoys sharing her experiences of motherhood, the good and the difficult, to encourage other moms that they are not alone. Loves: Great food (mostly made by her talented husband), playing with the kids, the beach, date nights, The Pats, The Sox, The B’s, new socks and bras, and American history, and movies. Can’t stand: Cotton balls, weeds, broken crayons, and country music