Hi guys, so I'm going to get quite personal with this post. The reason I'm writing it is for two reasons: 1) it's cathartic, 2) it might help someone else.
Just briefly I want to take you back to when I was growing up. Now depending on who you asked I was a healthy happy child but I wore that mask around people I couldn't be honest with, teachers for example. In truth I struggled with accepting myself and my cerebral palsy. In my mind it made me ugly and worthless. I walked funny, couldn't participate in sports (I dreaded PE) and I spent a lot of time on my own both in school and at home.
I grew up in a blended family as my parents divorced and both remarried. I spent the majority of time at my dads house but from quite a young age a rule was implemented where us kids (I'm one of 8) except for my youngest half sister were not allowed into my parents living room. What this meant was that I basically didn't get to see my dad except for at the dinner table as he would spend his evenings in that room watching telly.
Combine this with visiting my mum who was a publican for over 10 years, although we would go on family days out I was still in a position of not really seeing her as I wasn't allowed downstairs in the pub unless it was to wash the pots.
So as a child I was terribly isolated and my perception of how I was treated by my parents was that I wasn't worth their time. Although I'm sure this is not what they intended this was how I felt, and because I went to a different school that wasn't local to me I had no friends that I could spend time with outside of school. I could go in to a lot more detail but I won't basically It was a very challenging time for me, I think I tried to commit suicide twice.
It didn't really get any easier as an adult, going to university I never really found myself. I didn't have and still don't have the social skills of my peers. It's extremely difficult for me to strike up a conversation because it's so unnatural to me. I never really went out ( I don't do well with loud noises) so clubbing was never really an option. Again I spent a lot of time on my own in my room wondering what was wrong with me? Why I wasn't like everyone else?
Before I was mum
Fast-forward a few years and I was thinking of becoming a mum. I still had a lot of concerns that stemmed from my disability the main one was is my child going to be disabled? I'll be honest if the answer to that question would have been yes then I would not have had children. Not because I didn't want a disabled child but because of how hard I have found having a disability, how much I have allowed myself to be defined by it. To be held-back by it. I know that I wouldn't be strong enough to watch my child go through a similar journey because I wouldn't know how to help them cope with it.
How will I manage?
This was another difficult truth I faced. I knew that for me I would need to find alternate ways of caring for a baby. I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to provide the level of care that my child needed because I get fatigued quicker, can only really use one hand well, have poor balance. These were genuine barriers that I was going to have to overcome and there were days that I doubted that I could.
Finally in 2018 I was a mum, I gave birth to my little boy and I was so happy. Now he ended up in hospital with a twisted bowel and underwent surgery. This was extremely testing for me both physically and mentally. I wouldn't try to pick him up on my own I would ask a nurse to hand him to me as I worried that I would disturb a wire or not support his head properly. When we were eventually allowed to bring him home I adapted how I cared for him. I would get him dressed from feet to head as I couldn't lift and support his head whilst trying to put a baby-grow on. I would use a baby carrier to take him up and down stairs so that I had both hands free to make sure I wouldn't fall. I would go on very short walks each day with him generally to the end of the street and back to make sure that I wasn't too fatigued the next day. Now he is a toddler I make sure I use a backpack with a lead if I am taking him out on my own away from the village, simply because he will soon out pace me. Having it reassures me that if he lets go of my hand I still have hold of him.
For me being told that I couldn't do something on a regular basis because of my disability has definitely influenced my parenting style. I very rarely tell my son he can't do something, unless it's guaranteed to hurt or injure such as touching the oven. Rather I let him explore his own limits and I am there ready to catch him or help him if he needs it. I know first hand how devastating it is for others to decide your limits. To not try at something because someone that you trust told you you can't and I don't want that for my son. I want him to try anything and everything.
Because I do physiotherapy daily I try to allow my son to do it with me but more often then not he just likes to push me over. I would say this is a positive influence, it's nice that he can see mummy being active and wants to do the same.
I 'build him up' every day. What I mean by this is that I will tell him that he is handsome, that he is smart, that he can do anything. (I even wrote him a little book) so that we can read together and I still get to boost his self-belief. Never really feeling this about myself has made me so determined that my son won't question himself the way I have.
That's in guys in short I believe growing up disabled sabotaged my self-worth and so knowing the effects that has I try to do the complete opposite because I want my son to be happy and confident and know that no matter what he is capable of doing whatever he wants to in life.
Have a fantastic day.
I hope to see you again soon.