The world of parenting is filled with so many emotions: joy, excitement, and that proud feeling you get when your kid accomplishes a monumental task are things most parents experience on this journey. But there’s also other feelings parents often feel: anxiety and self-doubt are common when it comes to raising kids. And if you’re a parent with a disability, you know that these feelings and experiences are often magnified.
Erin, a congenital triple amputee who uses a power wheelchair for mobility, and a mom to two young children, shares how parenting with a disability can sometimes leave the parent feeling like he or she is being examined under a microscope.
Erin had a frightening incident happen to her family while she was taking in her adapted vehicle for repairs. Erin’s husband had driven another vehicle to the repair location, and she and her husband began busying themselves with transferring their children’s carseats and belongings from Erin’s car into her husband’s vehicle.
“My husband was trying to hand me something and I reached out, and at the very same moment my 16-month-old daughter decided to abruptly arch her back and fling herself backward, launching out of my arm and head-first onto the concrete floor. It felt like slow motion. I could see her falling but I couldn’t stop her. I screamed. She hit the floor, then she screamed. I will never forget the sound of CRACK, her head hitting the floor as I envisioned her tiny skill shattering.”
Erin’s husband immediately picked up their daughter, and the family quickly headed to the medical center. After a thorough examination by her pediatrician, Erin’s daughter was deemed perfectly fine despite a bump on her head.
“I cried. I was so grateful she was okay, and so relieved that she was not badly harmed,” writes Erin. Then she shares what so many other parents with disabilities feel when an incident like this happens to their children:
“I was scared – would people think I dropped her because of my disability? Would I be blamed? Would the medical providers question my fitness as a parent?”
Erin was able to calm her fears when she and her husband later discussed how the incident was simply an accident and could have happened to anyone. The fact that they were rushing was the likely culprit of their daughter’s tumble. “But, the reality for any disabled parent is that you will be scrutinized. And your abilities doubted,” Erin shares.
And while there’s no way to entirely prevent accidents from happening, Erin says that the biggest take away she learned from this incident is to slow down. Rushing isn’t worth the risk when safety is at stake.
“Slow down. Go easy on yourself. You’re doing the best that you can.”
What parenting lessons have you learned along the way? Share them with us, and you could be featured on AbleThrive!