Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Adventures in Things I Cannot Do

And this weekend? I think we (okay, they) are trying their hand at roller skating.

Skiing, though. I've done that! Neither of them has ever hit the slopes before.

I take pretty good pictures, though. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Abled" Parent

If you haven't already figured it out by now, I am a thinker. So much so, at times, that it is to my detriment. I worry. I consider all the possibilities. I wonder how or what others think of the same situation from their viewpoint. I think. Therefore, I am.

And so, with that - you guessed it - I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. A lot of soul searching. No, it doesn't exactly help much that one of the places I work is an interfaith spiritual theology school where I have recently been doing a fair amount of reading and editing of coursework text. Learning, as I read, how to be truer to myself. How to be authentic. How to live my purpose. Be bold. Be brave.

And I keep coming back to the same thing. Over and over again. It haunts me.

I have to write.

The specific thing that continues to run through my mind is the remembrance of a visit I once had, back nearly half my lifetime ago, to a fortune teller. A friend and I went - my friend writing down all the predictions this seer saw for my future.  And there, among them, was that I would be published. Twice over, in fact. One would be a sort an autobiography of sorts (uhhh, hello! Can anyone say "blog"?) And the other would be more of a fiction, she thought.

Now, I don't care what you're particular views on fortune tellers are. You may or may not take any stock in them whatsoever. That's fine. Heck, I don't even know exactly what my opinion of them are. But, I suppose, if tested, I'd have to say, "Why not? Why can't there be those among us who can see more deeply than others? Can see more clearly what laid before us and what's in store ahead? We all have our special talents."

And anyway, there were some other things she said that day that absolutely did make specific sense from my past or, as I lived and saw, came true in that day's near future.

For one thing - my meeting Hubby was predicted. And I did. At the time she said I would. He looked as she said he would. She had him pegged.

But, yeah... she predicted I'd be a published author. And here I sit, edging in closer and closer to 40 years on this earth, without having done a thing about making this happen.

But then again, I always have really felt that this was sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. See, I was told I was going to be a published author, so obviously it's going to happen. Somehow or another. And to actually get a move on to making this legitimately happen is to just put into motion what I was told by someone I'd do anyway. That's cheating. It's just supposed to happen "organically," isn't it?

At any rate, my current step has been to look around and see what kinds of books are out there for disabled women raising healthy children. Ask me to search for these books 9 or 10 years ago and I'd come up empty-handed for sure. But today? I'm pleased to say that there are a fair - not great, but fair - number of books and other published resources for disabled parents to turn to. That is progress, and I'm happy to see these few sources out there for parents, or potential parents, to turn to for answers and advice (not to mention, happy to be among the sources they turn to with any questions and concerns regarding pregnancy and raising children.)

However... I'm still unclear what my particular bent would be in writing my own book on the topic of parenting when you're a disabled parent.

I'm not a fiction writer. Let me tell the truth, please. Let me tell you my story. I can do that and I can do that well. But to fabricate a story, with characters and an interesting plot and storyline? Uh uh. Can't do it. Don't make me.

And... you know? This whole "being a disabled woman raising a happy and healthy child" thing? It's going okay. And not, honestly, very affected by my disability. Not that I can see on a daily basis, anyway. In fact, as far as being a disabled parent goes, I sometimes feel rather like an imposter of sorts.

I mean... yes, I wear leg braces and walk with the aid of a walking stick. But that's me anyway. My braces and walking stick have no effect on how I am raising my daughter.

And other than my braces and stick - which I need in my life, child or not - I don't require any other "aids" to help me properly care for my child on a daily basis. In fact, the only parenting "aid" I can think of ever having was one of those kiddie "leashes" (Ugh. Hate that term!) for when Sweetie was a toddler and I didn't want her to wander or run off from me when we were out in public. And, of course - primarily when she was quite a bit younger - I needed more help physically from nearby family and friends. People who could lift her up and/or carry her when I couldn't. But now? I'm good. She's good. We're all good. And not terribly "disabled" from doing what we want to get done, physically speaking.

So, with that... my current story with Sweetie is, I feel, pretty much just like any other mom's story of raising a child. Sure, I have my thoughts on what having a disabled mom is doing for Sweetie's personal strength, character, and self-confidence. Because Sweetie does put up with a lot because of who I am (aaannnnddd... here we go with a complete 360 from the paragraph above...). She understands that I cannot walk far distances - at least not without my back brace on. She helps me get chores done around the house that perhaps other girls her age don't do because particular things are difficult for me to accomplish easily (i.e. deliver clothes piles and other things to our upstairs, carry large loads of laundry to be folded, etc.) And I think she knows that I endure chronic back pain and occasional leg weakness - not that I ever really outwardly complain about these things (what's the point? I'm still gonna hurt.) She pulls me up when I fall down, she slows down when I remind her I'm slower than she is, and she helps me without complaint when I ask for assistance through trickier (walking related) situations.

Just a couple weekends ago we were visiting friends at their beautiful new summer cottage, complete with a fabulous lake view and small dock to rest on. But to get back up to their cottage from the dock meant trekking up a somewhat steep (for me), tree-root-littered hill. Two or three times during our stay I asked Sweetie if she would please help me up this hill... which meant her stopping her fun playtime with new friends swimming in the lake so she could steady/pull her old, sore, heavy (for her, at least) mother up the incline. And she did it, no complaints (well, a tiny bit of complaint, but hardly mentionable.) And then, at the end of the evening when the car was all packed up and Hubby realized we were all set to go, except for Mom still needing help to get up the hill and to the car, I'm told Sweetie happily jumped at the chance to assist. "I'll go get her!" she said. And she did. She's a big help.

I realize that all of my "things" that I do live with, and that make me who I am, have got to have an effect on Sweetie, for better or for worse. And, in a lot of ways, I dare say my being who I am - as tough as it can sometimes be for me, for her, for our family - has played/is playing a large part in (if I do say so myself) the strong, creative, fair, kind, GREAT person Sweetie is today and continues to grow into existence.

So, yes. I have a story to tell. I've been telling it hear for about 5 years now. But in so many ways, it is nothing remarkable at all. Just like countless numbers of other parenting stories out there. I'm a mom. My husband and I are raising our daughter. We think - no, we know - she is amazing. We have our ups and downs but life, in general, is pretty good. End of story.

But... I have a book inside me. I know I do. It haunts me. To write it would be to display my authentic self. What I'm supposed to do - to help myself and to help others. If only just by way of entertainment. It only needs just to get out and on it's way.

Let's get a move on...