Disclaimer: This post is kindly sponsored by The Flower Shops in celebration of Mothers from all diverse backgrounds this Mothers Day 2021.
Being a powerchair user with a little one my lap and another holding my left hand as I maneuverer the controller with my right, sparks a lot of attention from strangers. I’m fully accustomed to stares and thankful thus far my girls have never stopped in their tracks because of someone else’s curiosity of the way I operate. That’s how it should be! Stares after all are just that, curiosity. They aren’t always filled with stigma or negative assumptions, more often than not staring is just someone’s way of processing new information, something out the ordinary and many don’t have the confidence to ask someone different the questions that are flowing through their mind.
From pregnancy my priorities were quite different. While other Mums surfed Pinterest to create the most Instagrammable nursery with all the trending colours, my fiancé and I couldn’t find a single changing unit that was the right height and with leg room beneath to allow me to independently change a nappy from my wheelchair. Mark ended up making one out of an old computer desk on wheels we found in a local charity shop and velcro’ed a baby changing pad on top with a safety strap to prevent any accidents with a rolling baby. I even rigged a toy arch over the top for entertainment as somebody who’s quite slow I needed all help I could get keeping my girls content while I worked on changing their clothes/nappy or applying lotion after their bath. Functionality trumped everything, and yes I did feel a pinch of sadness that I couldn’t decorate and design how I wanted the nursery to look but as I constantly remind myself I would rather have it look a bit strange and be practical for me, than sacrifice that independence vs it being aesthetically pleasing. That’d just be insane…
Being completely transparent, I lost the ability to lift my girls when they weighed more than 6lbs due to my muscle-wasting condition. I remember that pang of fear as they got nearer to the “impossible” weight of panic that I wouldn’t figure out how to do things differently. But I underestimated my adaptable mind and I DID figure most things out. E.g I rolled my girls as babies from one side to the other to dress them and change their nappy, and I learnt where and how it was safe to hold and slide their delicate little bodies from say the sofa to my lap in my wheelchair without it harming them in any way. I used my mind to control the unrulily toddler stages, not like I was one of the x-men but gosh when reverse psychology, bribery and being one step ahead with distraction techniques got me the desired result, especially in more nerve wrecking situations such as my little one getting too close to the water feeding the ducks, it felt and continues to feel a bloody amazing mummy win!
Many parents have resorted to staying with their child until they fall asleep at night, me included. Only when you’re in a powerchair that clicks and clunks, and you’re trying to navigate out your childs bedroom in the pitch black like a disabled ninja, honestly sometimes I have no idea how I make it out of there alive, without waking a sleeping babe. I always expect her to jump up, running to the door saying “fooled ya!”
The hardest times were the earliest, when friends and family through concern for me unintentionally judged my choice to become a mother – period. I didn’t have all the answers to fire back at naysayers back then, nor did I 100% know what motherhood would look like for me although I wasn’t naïve, I knew it’d look vastly different. It stung SO hard knowing your biggest cheerleaders faltered at your biggest dream. Though I understand now many years later, worry can make things come across all wrong. Now I smile when my Mum reminds me often how proud she is of my achievements having two little humans, despite the odds that were stacked against me. Perhaps if I’d have never received negativity I wouldn’t be able to say I’m proud of myself eight years down the line?
Motherhood looks different for everyone, nomatter your race, sexuality, health or ability. Everyone copes differently because we are ALL different. We desperately need to move away from social norms and striving for perfection in parenting, because there is simply no such thing. As long as the children brought into the world are loved, nurtured and cared for appropriately nothing else matters.
Disability added so many positives to my experience of motherhood. It made me nurture them better with words and showed me just how powerful communication really is with children, it forced me to think outside the box and adapt beyond what I thought my capabilities of adapting were, push my own emotional and physical boundaries for the sake of two little beings I treasure with every beat of my heart. Disability allowed me to teach diversity and the importance of inclusion from the moment they were born, my girls will grow up accepting anyone for who they are simply because they were born into a vastly different family dynamic that didn’t fit the social norm.
In our home my children say the “d” word, disability is not a bad word and I wish to encourage you to say it more with your own children. Inclusion starts at home, and not just within families with disabilities. If we talk about disability more as a whole, it won’t seem that scary to those with no experience of it anymore. Be the change you want to see in the world, start today and unite with us in creating a more inclusive tomorrow.
For Mothers Day this year companies like The Flower Shops are celebrating mothers from all diverse backgrounds and it’s so refreshing to see disability included. There is a huge community of Mothers with disabilities out there who face very ordinary mothering challenges and some extraordinary. Why not let them know what an amazing job they’re doing with a luxurious bouquet of flowers? Simply order online and have them delivered to a beautiful mama’s door!