Dear Fellow Disabled Parent,
The first thing I need you to know is that you are still enough. Not only as a parent but as a person. Sometimes it is easy to forget that notion, particularly if you used to be accomplished in some field of work, or felt more accomplished as a parent before your disability. I know I felt that way for quite a while after becoming disabled. But we, especially as parents, are more than abled.
In my experience, your children not only admire you as much as before your disability, they admire you even more. Yes, you may not be able to push them on the swings anymore. I know how heartbreaking this can feel. You may not be able to ride bikes alongside them or kick a ball with them, but they get to see their parent be an actual fighter — a true survivor. They know that despite your treatments, despite your pain, you still give them all the love they need. They see how you still struggle every day with all your might to give them extra hugs and kisses, to read their favorite bedtime story, to cuddle on the couch and watch too many kids’ movies to count.
They see you struggle too. They feel your pain. I know how bad this hurts. As the amazing parents we are, we only want to protect our children. But sadly, suffering and change are realities of life. They may have to learn this fact at a younger age than we would ever have liked, but they can also learn from you that everything passes, and there is so much goodness and love in the world. We all have good days and bad days. There are no obstacles that cannot be challenged. Our children are the ones who will be able to carry this with them in their everyday lives.
Our children watch us all the time. There are valuable life lessons we get to impart to them by living our best disabled life, by taking all the bad and making the best of it — because that is all we can do. That is all any parent can do.
As a parent, before I was disabled, I always was told parents do the best they can with what they have. Here’s the kicker — as a now-disabled parent, I’ve discovered, and I hope you will too, that disabled or not, we all have two choices in life. Do we choose to focus on the good and fight like hell for that? Or do we fall into pessimism and defeat?
Don’t get me wrong, it took me quite a long while after being diagnosed and sick to come to grips with who I could be and wanted to be as a parent — how I could take all the bad that had been thrown at me and somehow break through to help my children. I was deeply depressed. I grieved. I had to read and watch positive material to boost me up, to truly understand my new purpose. I had to reach acceptance, but it wasn’t easy.
Being disabled has taught this parent that even if I can no longer kick a ball with my kids, or push them on a swing, I get to do something so much more important. I get to instill in them that despite life’s unpredictable circumstances, despite sadness and sickness and bad feelings, you never give up and always focus on the most important thing — love. So in some ways, disabled parents, we may be the lucky ones. ❤️