Grammy broke her foot about a month ago and so is hobbling around with a walking cast on one foot.
I'm hobbling around... well, you know... because that's what I do.
Sweetie... healthy, active, full of energy from sun up to sun down Sweetie... complained a lot about her feet hurting and just being plain tired of walking. A few times even throwing herself down on the floor in exhaustion whenever Grammy and/or I stopped to look through the clothes racks.
Granted, I an not a shopper. At all. Therefore, Sweetie has really not been exposed to "mall going" before. Walking from store to store, trying clothes on, etc. If we shop, we go to one store, see what's on the racks, then either buy something or not. Quick and easy.
Still, we hardly did the typical "shop til you drop" thing. We went to two stores. That's it. Really no big deal. I was definitely in some discomfort myself and had to sit down once to rest. But it was okay.
So when Sweetie complained for about the 20th time or so, I had really had enough. As Grammy stood in the check out line to get our last purchase, I stood off to the side with Sweetie and spoke to her.
(Sweetie), it takes a lot of effort for me to do all the walking we've done today. It's very hard for me to walk at all. You are healthy. You can walk. You don't get to complain about walking. You get that?
To which Sweetie quietly answered - Yes.
And I felt awful. I just used my disability as a means to get Sweetie to buck up and deal with her own - valid-for-a-6-year-old - aches and pains. It was, honestly, the first time I had ever
complained to Sweetie - or pretty much anyone, really - that "Hey, it's really hard for me to get around."
I don't complain. I certainly take my time. I ask Hubby, Sweetie, or whomever I'm with to
slow down and wait for me. I ask for assistance up and down stairs or inclines. I sometimes let people do the walking for me if that's an option. I tell people when I have to sit down and rest for a minute. But I don't complain. I just do what I need to do to get through the store/hike/
whatever as comfortably as possible, and that's it.
Hubby occasionally will limp along and moan about a sore joint or two.
Sweetie has complained from time to time about being tired.
But I just keep on going.
Whenever my face does show my pains or Hubby can just tell that I've pushed myself to the limit, he tells me to stop playing the martyr and sit down already! But I'm not trying to be a martyr. I just recognize that saying how I'm feeling to whomever I'm with is not going to change anything about the pain or discomfort or fatigue that I have. Let's just keep on moving, then we'll be done and I can rest all that much sooner.
But yesterday, I did it. I played the disability card. On my 6 year old. I placed my disability burden on her young shoulders. And not even by out-and-out complaining about my experience, but telling her - because of my experience - she's not allowed to complain for herself. Wow.
I have not really directly talked to Sweetie about my disability. I've tried to. I know I've talked about how my braces and walking stick help me. She knows my legs aren't as strong as hers. But we just don't talk about spina bifida as such. If she heard me use the words "spina bifida" in conversation, she would either remember that "that's what makes mommy have to wear braces on her legs" or she'd ask me again to tell me what those words mean (it's what makes me have to wear braces on my legs). She has no real sense that there's anything "wrong" with me. Different, sure. But not wrong. As I've mentioned here many times before, I'm just Mommy. All that makes me "me" makes me the Mommy that Ella knows, loves, and feels comforted by. My experiences with spina bifida certainly play a part in who I am, but my individual experiences don't mean a hoot to Sweetie.
So for me to deliberately point out what's wrong with me, what's difficult for me, what's a big challenge for me, and tell Sweetie she's got no right to complain herself because of all that I deal with.... Well. I just feel awful.
In talking to Hubby about this, he said that no one has the right to complain about something when they're in the company of someone who is dealing with the same complaint on a larger scale. No one has the right to complain about their hurt foot in the company of his mom. He doesn't have the right to complain about his aching back in my company (although he does... boy, does he have aches and pains he's forever telling me about!). It's just a matter of politeness that everyone has to learn in life. Telling Sweetie what I told her is okay.
And I see his point. I know he's right. But still. As the words were coming out of my mouth, and Sweetie responded as quietly and somberly as she did, I regretted the manner in which I chose, in that moment, to get her to buck up and... deal.