I don’t recall the precise moment that it dawned on me, but I’m pretty sure it coincided with the time I found my daughter, Promise, sitting on the hallway carpet wearing nothing more than a diaper, one of my sterile catheters in hand, and trying to mimic me self-catheterizing.
Yes. I’m pretty sure THAT was the moment that it hit me; mothering with a disability was going to be…umm…interesting.
Now that I’m almost seven years into my journey of motherhood, I realize how much my disability actually prepared me for motherhood more than any parenting book ever could.
And so I present to you the top ten ways that living with a disability will prepare you for motherhood…
- You consider jello the seventh food group on the food pyramid.
If you’ve ever been put on a strict “liquid only” diet, you know just how tasty jello can be. By the time your six month old is eating solids, you will be so proficient at making jello that you could do it blind-folded. All you need to know is, “Lime, Strawberry, or Orange?”.
- Sweatpants become your new uniform.
Why show up for an MRI wearing jeans when you know you’ll just have to change into a drafty hospital gown? You might as well do yourself a favor and start off in comfy, metal-free, sweatpants. They also fit perfectly after you’ve given birth so it’s a wardrobe staple that is a win win!
- You get used to repeating yourself over and over and OVER again.
You’re sitting and waiting to see your doctor and this is the fourth resident that has walked into your hospital room and asked you to repeat your entire health history to them. Have no fear, when your toddler asks you to read “Goodnight Moon” for the seven hundredth time, it won’t even phase you.
- Talking about poop is no longer a big deal.
You know the rule; you can’t be released from the hospital until your nurse knows when your most recent BM was. So when your child tries to shock you with a newly learned poop joke, your stoic response will be legendary.
- The doctor’s office is your second home.
Not only do you find yourself there on a weekly basis, but you are lulled to sleep by the hum of medical machinery. The “D” section of your phone’s contact list is a mile long and the nurses all know you by name. Ultrasounds are equivalent to a spa massage. When you call to make an appointment, you know what number to dial on the keypad before the automated system even asks for it. All of these skills will make your transition into the world of “let’s build up your immunity” that much more pleasant.
- You are stealth at getting yourself out of awkward and embarrassing situations.
Your nervous system overreacted again and made you wet your pants? No problem! You have an extra pair of pants in the car for that. Your ileostomy bag started leaking digestive waste all over your car seat while you’re driving? Have no fear! You have disinfecting wipes (and a change of clothes) handy. Your newborn blows out their diaper all over your shirt in the middle of the mall? Easy Peasy! You were BORN to handle situations like this.
- You’ve already accepted the reality that there is no cure.
And that there is never a day off. EVER. The same is true for motherhood.
- Your medical devices can double as useful parenting tools.
Use your cane to gently herd your children in the direction you’d like them to go in high traffic areas. If they begin to complain about their little feet getting tired at the zoo, just plop them on your lap and wheel them around in your wheelchair, no stroller needed! And remember that “grabber” they gave you in your last physical therapy session? It’s the perfect tool for reaching all of those pacifiers that end up beneath their crib.
- Waiting is the name of the game.
Whether you are waiting for your children or trying to entertain your children while they wait, all of those long hours that you’ve spent in the waiting room have equipped you with the crayons, games, and books necessary to reign victorious in these situations.
- You’ve learned firsthand, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It’s true. If your toddler doesn’t kill you, they will make you stronger.