A fellow mother of twins wrote this beautiful essay about how her sons' disabilities have altered the course of her life and her identity. As today, March 25, is the first National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day (or Cerebral Palsy Pride Day, depending on how you look at it) we wanted to share it with you.
My Sons' Disabilities Mean I'll Never Be 'Just a Mom'
by Melissa Waller Longshore
What does cerebral palsy mean to me? I've decided I could sum it up in one sentence and that would be: I am not just a mom.
I went to hang up pictures in the library for Exceptional Children's Week and I was stopped by someone who wanted to know if I worked for the school system. I said: No, I am just a mom. However, once those words left my lips, I realized how untrue they were. Since my boys have cerebral palsy, I will NEVER have the opportunity to be just a mom. I will always be MORE than a MOM.
I will be my boys' Physical Therapist. I will stretch and push their little bodies to the max, all while hoping that my efforts are not in vain.
I will be an Explorer searching through the vast horizon of possibilities, looking for answers to questions that have yet to arise.
I will be a Doctor that rivals the best with knowledge of most medical terminology and an understanding their applications.
I will be the Navigator of a schedule that has to be seen to be truly appreciated. Where every day is filled to the minute with something that needs to be done.
I will be an Advocate for quality medical care and more educational resources.
I will be a Warrior fighting against the word can't.
I will be an Athlete, pushing the chair and lifting the weight.
I will be a Caretaker, feeding meals and handling bodily needs.
I will be a Crusader for more compassion and acceptance.
I will be a Researcher of the untried and the alternative, in hopes that something discovered today will benefit all tomorrow.
I will be a Farmer, planting seeds of hope to help other parents with children like mine.
I will be a Nurse, administering medication and gauging the results.
I will be a Builder of a home to fit their needs.
I will be a Visionary of what will be and could be, not what is.
I will be a Teacher to others, making them aware of cerebral palsy and its effects.
I will be a Mountain Climber, motivating my children to stretch past their limitations and to climb to new heights.
I will be a Preacher telling all that one's faith... belief system... God... is powerful and able to get you through the most difficult and challenging aspects of your life.
I will be a Nurturer, comforting my children when they fall, need support or are hurt by the harsh reality of how they will function in this big world.
I will be a high-powered Negotiator at IEP meetings.
I will be a Money manager finding ways to make the dollar stretch and having a great understanding of insurance and government waivers.
I will be a Comedian, laughing when others would cry.
I will be a Thrill-Seeker, searching for ways to include adventure in our lives — while running on coffee and adrenaline, yet living life to the fullest despite any challenge.
I will be an Investor in the promises of tomorrow, while reaping the small rewards of today.
I will be a Conductor orchestrating the operations of my family.
I will be a Writer, writing about all of this.
Yes, I am the CEO of this and so much more.
So, you see, as a result of cerebral palsy, I guess I will always be more than a mom. I will not be better or worse than the typical mother. I will have the same virtues and shortcomings. Yes, I will be the same in so many ways as others — possessing the same hopes and dreams for my children — but undeniably different.
I guess I will be special too — just like my children.
There are times when I wish I could be "Just a Mom," too.
However, most days, I love being More Than a Mom because the rewards are great. I have gained greater insights about what is important in life and what is not. I appreciate the simple things. I see value in every milestone. I see the beauty in just being — not what one has or is capable of achieving.
I see the power of people. How someone so small (a child with cerebral palsy) can impact my world and so many others' worlds in a positive way. I feel I am not alone because there are many, many More Than a Moms just like me. Their children are not defined by their challenges. These are moms and children who choose to supersede their circumstances.
No, I don't work... I don't get paid. However, I have many jobs. I guess that this is the only way I can articulate what cerebral palsy means to me.
It makes me More Than Just a Mom.
I hope you connected with this post no matter where on the parenting "spectrum" you are! Feel free to share using the icon buttons below and if you haven't subscribed to my RSS feed, liked me on Facebook or followed me on Twitter, there's no time like the present! Oh, and the AWESOME board book Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White is available here and all profits go towards my son's medical needs.