Eliza Hull, born with Charcot Marie Tooth disorder, was excited to become a mother. However, she did have some concerns about how her disability would affect her parenting.
“Internally I was battling questions that were fraught with fear. Would I be able to parent with a disability? Would the pregnancy be too hard? Would people judge me? Could I manage? At times, my head was a whirlwind of anxiety.”
Eliza had questions regarding her pregnancy and turned to parenting self-help books for the answer. However, she states she found the books hard to relate to because none of them had parents with disabilities in them. After doing some research, Eliza found a television show from overseas that featured parents with disabilities and their stories. The person narrating the show did not have a disability. Eliza writes, “This meant it was inaccurate, sensationalised, and reinforced stereotypes that I had been taught. The main argument within the show was that people with disabilities would find it far too challenging to parent.”
“I realised after watching this show that these beliefs were everywhere, and had been reinforced throughout my life.”
Eliza recalls a time in her life when she had to deal with people placing stereotypes on her. “I remember my neurologist filling my head with doubt when I was considering having children. He would constantly question my ability to parent. As a society, we’ve been taught to trust and listen to medical staff, but his views were out-dated and hurtful,” she says.
“In the end, becoming a mother enabled me to not only face my own internal fears, but also understand where these discriminatory beliefs had come from.”
With motherhood, Eliza not only faced her own fears, but she came to understand where these beliefs originated, and for a long time, she had been fed untruths.
Eliza is now the mother of a four-year-old daughter, Isobel. She finds parenting to be "the most incredible and rewarding experience." "I accept who I am, and love that I can offer her a life where diversity in all of its forms is celebrated," she writes.
Eliza states although being a parent with a disability may have its physical challenges, she tries to be the best mother that she can. She says, “There are times I wish I had more energy, or wasn’t in pain, but I’m an incredible mother. We paint and we read together, but most importantly I’ve already taught her the importance of a diverse and inclusive world.
Eliza feels that people with disabilities deserve the chance to tell their own stories. Therefore, she produced the TV series, "We've Got This," sharing stories of parents with disabilities from their perspective. Since the show has aired, Eliza has received emails that is proof the show has changed opinions about parents with disabilities.
Eliza states the most prevalent obstacle parents with disabilities seemed to face was within their own community. "...(A)n example," she writes, "is the constant assumptions from strangers; that their children must be looking after them."
Eliza asserts that parents with disabilities are "thriving," and deserve the right to parent.
"Disability is not something that ought to be feared, diversity is what makes this world a beautiful one."
Are you a parent with a disability? Share your story with us at AbleThrive.com!