To the Moms of Kids With Physical Disabilities :: I See You

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.

Sincerely,

Your friend and fellow mom

Leah is a Massachusetts native who grew up in the MetroWest area. She met her husband in 2006 and they bonded over all things Boston. After moving to North Carolina for 4 years, they realized they had to move back to New England. (love that dirty water!) In 2011 they welcomed a son into their family. Then 2014, 1 week before having their daughter, their son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The last but not least little guy came in 2017. With three kids and special needs in their life, they rely on an amazing support system of friends and family. Leah is a stay at home mom, who is also growing a small business, and enjoying the independence and freedom it has given her. 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, pollen, and vacuuming up Cheerios every half hour.